Woodland Venison Stew
Here’s what you’ll need:
- 2 pounds venison, cubed
- 3 chopped yellow or white onions (mine were pretty small, so I used 4)
- 3 medium carrots, cut into 1/4-inch slices, or baby carrots, peeled
- 1 1/2 cups cleaned and quartered mushrooms
- 3 cloves garlic, smashed
- a few sprigs of fresh thyme
- 1 tablespoon juniper berries (give them a quick smash with a mortar and pestle, if possible)
- black pepper
- 2 cups beef, lamb, or venison stock, or dry red wine
- 1/4 cup red wine vinegar or apple cider vinegar
Please feel free to substitute what you have available, as always. I think parsnips or celeriac would go nicely here, for example.
What to do:
1. Start by browning your venison. Heat up some fat in your pan over moderate heat, and give the venison plenty of time to brown. More tips on browning meat here. Once it’s nicely seared on at least two sides, pull it out and let it rest.
Now it’s the vegetables’ turn.
2. Add the onions and scrape up the crispy bits from the bottom of the pan with a wooden spatula. After about 5 minutes of cooking and scraping, add the carrots and mushrooms, and do it some more, until they look like they have picked up a little color.
3. Add the garlic, juniper berries, thyme, and salt and pepper, and let them get some of that high heat in the pan, before adding the liquid.
4. Add the liquid (I used lamb stock) and quickly give the pan a few scrapes to clean up any caramelized vegetable bits, and mix them into the pot. Add the meat, and make sure you have enough liquid to cover. Add more salt and pepper.
5. Cover the pot and reduce the heat to low-medium, and let it simmer for a couple of hours. About half way through the cooking, add the vinegar. I used apple cider vinegar, since it’s apple season, and that seemed like a good match for the forest flavors.
6. When everything is tender, and the liquid has reduced into a nice sauce, taste and see if you need to add any more salt, pepper, or vinegar before serving. A little fresh thyme wouldn’t hurt, either!
While ours was cooking, I thought I’d try something new: Celeriac Fries!
Once I sliced the celeriac into sticks, I fried them in bacon fat until they were browned and crisp on the outside. Since they were done early, I popped them into the oven to crisp up again before serving. You should definitely try it!
The stew turned out really beautifully, and I served ours over turnip puree. I paired it with my favorite mixed market greens, and the celeriac fries, for a little more excitement.