As our sunny Southern weather starts to turn colder and grayer, my body starts to crave the comfort of delicious and hearty stews.
Chances are if you live in the South you have a friend, relative or significant other who regularly participates in deer hunting. As deer season has now come to a close, we found ourselves with an abundance of venison and I knew just the recipe to honor the deer with.
A hearty Homemade Venison Stew.
For those who haven’t had venison a word of advice: this animal is extremely flavorless. It makes you wonder why people hunt deer at all for meat. Deer are such lean animals that even the most flavorful part, the backstrap (IE the Filet of Deer), at best tastes like a piece of sirloin steak.
Not entirely the best meat, but when you know how to turn it into something else and add a couple of pinches of salt and pepper, venison transforms into the most wonderful of dishes.
This particularly cold evening we were having my parents and grandma over for dinner and I really wanted to use up some of the 200 lbs of venison we had in our freezer. I’ve also been itching to break in our new Le Creuset Dutch Oven we got for Christmas. A perfect combination that led me to transform the classic beef stew into a wonderful venison stew. Served up with a healthy slice of baguette from Star Provisions and a smattering of my favorite salted butter from Banner Butter. Truly the best better. If you think butter is just butter then you haven’t had this grass-fed butter. It’s the Kobe Beef of butter.
This stew left everyone in silence except for the slurping of spoons and sawing of crusty baguette against the cutting board. A true household favorite that I hope you get to try sometime!
Homemade Venison Stew
For this recipe you will need:
2 pounds of Venison. I used cubed steak cut venison but you can use beef stew meat in lieu of venison.
Butter & Olive Oil (for cooking with)
6 ounces of bacon diced
Salt and Black Pepper to taste
1/4 cup of flour
2 cups of pinot noir
1 pound of mushrooms thickly sliced
4 large carrots peeled and diced
1 medium yellow onion diced
4 garlic cloves chopped
1 TBSP tomato paste
4 cups beef broth (I sourced mine from White Oak Pastures and it might have been THE reason this turned out so well.)
2 bay leaves
3 sprigs of fresh thyme
1 pound of baby or fingerling potatoes
This recipe is quite labor intensive for the first 30 minutes so bear with me on the directions but the great thing is, with a Le Creuset dutch oven, this is a one and a half pot meal! So clean up is a breeze.
Step One. In a large, oven-proof pot (like this one), sauté bacon over medium heat until golden brown and fat is released. Using a slotted spoon, remove bacon to a separate bowl.
Step Two. While bacon is cooking, place venison (dried with a paper towel and at room temperature) in a large mixing bowl and season with 1 Tbsp salt and 2 tsp black pepper. Sprinkle venison with 1/4 cup flour and toss to combine and evenly coat. Transfer venison in batches into the hot bacon fat and cook over med/high heat, until beef is browned (3-4 min per side). Add butter if needed. Cook venison in 2 batches or it won’t sear properly. Transfer browned venison to the bowl with bacon.
Step Three. Add 2 cups pinot noir to the pot and bring to a boil, scraping the bottom to deglaze the pot. Add sliced mushrooms and simmer over medium heat about 10 min. Return venison and bacon to the pot after the mushrooms have simmered.
Step Four. Meanwhile, heat a large non-stick skillet over medium/high heat and add 2 Tbsp olive oil. Add sliced carrots, diced onion and 4 chopped garlic cloves, and saute 4 min. Add 1 Tbsp tomato paste and sautee another minute. Transfer veggies to the soup pot.
Step Five. Add 4 cups beef broth, 2 bay leaves, 1 tsp dried thyme, 1 tsp salt and 1/2 tsp pepper to the pot. Stir to combine and bring to a low boil.
Step Six. Add potatoes, making sure they are submerged in liquid then cover and transfer to a 325˚F oven for 1 hour and 35 min. Venison will be very tender.
There you have it, an extremely satisfying winter meal that can be used with any red meat you prefer. While this calls for Venison, you can easily exchange that for good cuts of stew beef from your local grocer.
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