Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Venison Stew

My husband recently did a very traditional "provider" thing and shot a deer, which he had butchered and brought home as our meat supply for the next few weeks (you can read about it here).

I have limited experience with venison - I've eaten it a handful of times previously and had never cooked it before. But meat is meat and in the winter, and especially with me being pregnant with twins, meat is a welcome food. 

My husband took the deer to the butcher, so he decided on what cuts to get, not me, although I had given a bit of preference before he'd set out on the hunting trip. He brought home several packets of breakfast sausage, 2 roasts, some steaks, some tenderloin, some backstrap and some stew meat. Plus two packs of ground hamburger meat he'd traded for some sausage from a hunting friend (and as such was not "our" deer, but rather the friend's). That first night home it was late so we had burgers, but since they were someone else's meat, I don't count them as the first proper meal cooked with venison. Plus burgers, while tasty, aren't exactly rocket science to make. I admit I did fancy them up a bit by adding pureed onion, bell pepper and parsley (I was afraid the lean venison would be too dry without adding something) as well as a bit of salt. But really then all I did was grill them and serve on rolls with cheese, and a side of herb roasted potatoes.

For the first real meal, I dug into the stew meat. My husband isn't a big stew fan, but I am, plus I had tons of root veggies from the CSA filling up my fridge. And, perhaps most importantly, stew is easy. I have no experience with venison but I know its a lean, gamey meat and I figured a nice liquid-laden dish was a good introduction for me. Plus I wanted to get a feel for the stew meat before attempting to use in a batch of eagerly-anticipated-by-my-husband chili.

It was the right choice, it was easy and it came out well. I used almost no seasoning, just some salt and pepper and a bit of wine, but otherwise let the veggies and the meat flavor the stew. Slow cooked on low for about 7 hours, the meat came out tender and perfect, the once hard veggies soft and easy to eat. And true to form, there is almost no visible fat on the stew - not as it cooked, nor forming a creamy white layer at the tops of the jars of stew stashed away in the fridge. Just hearty, tasty stew waiting to be eaten for lunch on cold days as I figure out the rest of those cuts of meat.

Venison Stew (about 6 hearty servings)

2 lbs (I think) venison stew pieces
2 rutabaga
2 medium potatoes
4 small "salad" turnips
7 small carrots
1 leek
1/2 red onion
4 cups water
1 cup red wine
salt & pepper

2 tablespoons flour
2 tablespoons cold water

Chop (and if desired peel) vegetable into bite sized cubes, or in the case of carrots, into "coins". Place everything into a slow cooker, liquid and seasoning last. Cook on low for 7 hours. About 20 minutes before you are ready to eat, mix the water and flour together and pour into the stew and mix in well. Enjoy.