Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Venison Stew

A friend gifted us with a lovely venison roast from a recent hunting trip- seriously, if you aren't a hunter, make sure you're at least friends with one. I happen to love venison; it is a stronger flavored meat than beef, but I don't think it's as "gamey" as some of the others out there. Alex, on the other hand, seems to pick up on that flavor and isn't as big a fan of it as I am. (Which is pretty much the only reason we haven't gone deer hunting yet...)

Anyway- back to the roast. Alex saw a recipe on Facebook that looked pretty good at first glance, but when I dug into it a little further- and by that I mean I actually read the recipe, and didn't just drool over the photo- it seemed like it needed some work, for my tastes. The one thing that really stuck out at me was the mention that tomato sauce or vinegar can be used to tame some of the gaminess of the meat, if you're so inclined. So, with that in mind, I grabbed my slow cooker and started thinking.

First, I trimmed off some bits of silver skin that were there, just because I have a "thing" about weird chewy bits of meat. Then, I seasoned the roast with salt, pepper and garlic powder, and the let that rest while I heated a frying pan with a couple tablespoons of olive oil. Once the oil was nice and hot, I placed the roast in the pan and seared the meat for a few minutes on each side, in order to get some really nice carmelization going.

While the meat was searing, I chopped up some veggies: onions, carrots, celery and potatoes. As I've mentioned before- I hardly ever measure when I'm making things like this, so... maybe a cup to 2 cups of each, except the celery, which was probably a little bit less by proportion. These were all cut into relatively similar-sized pieces, so that they'd all cook at the same rate.

For the stew base, I used a package of Lipton's (kosher) Onion Soup mix. I know that might sound weird, seeing as how I'm a huge proponent of making things yourself, but I'll tell you what- there are just some things I won't make without it. So, into the crock went the soup mix and the veggies, and the nicely seared roast went in on top of that. I de-glazed my searing pan with some hot water; once the little stuck bits were dissolved I put that liquid into the crock as well. Then, I topped it all off with some boiling water, just up to the level of the veggies. The last ingredient was a pint of plain tomato sauce, from the pantry. I gave the top a little stir, just to incorporate the tomato sauce, then on went the lid and away I went.

Some hours later, everything was finished cooking and the house smelled amazing. I fished out the roast and set it aside to carve up into bite sized chunks. Once that was out f, I added some corn starch in water (maybe 2T in a 1/4 cup of cold water) to thicken the sauce a little bit more. I also threw on a pot of egg noodles to boil, but you could use rice or another grain if you prefer. I finished cubing up the meat, and put that back into the pot while we waited on the noodles. once they were done, I dished everything up and we dug in.

The verdict? Alex was positively over the moon about it! The addition of the tomato sauce really surprised me; it added a nice depth of flavor to the stew and while the venison still tasted like venison (thank goodness!) he said it wasn't gamey at all. I couldn't have been happier with the way it turned out.

What's your favorite way to cook venison?

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