March 31, 2021
Savory, tender venison stewed with a little something extra.
There's nothing quite like a hearty stew on a cold night. Beef and lamb are pretty easy. They've likely been raised and grain-fed to be tender, making them an easy main ingredient for a stew. But that last whitetail deer you harvested is a different story. While their muscle structure is similar to farmed livestock, running in the wild will toughen even the best shoulder or backstrap, making a long simmer essential.
Stews are as simple as some meat, veggies and liquid. But to make mine special, I add a few things that add to the indescribable deliciousness, called umami, of the stew. One doesn't consider anchovies, double-strength tomato paste or paprika to be stewing essentials, but believe me, they really add to the final experience. FS
- 2 lbs. venison (backstrap or shoulder), cut into 1-inch pieces.
- 2 tbs. canola or peanut oil
- 2 12 oz. cans, beef stock
- 2 tbs. double-strength tomato paste
- 1 tbs. dried thyme leaves
- 1 lb. red potatoes, skin-on and quartered*
- ½ lb. peeled pearl onions
- 3 celery stalks, cut into 1-inch pieces
In a heavy Dutch oven, over medium-high heat, brown the venison in a few tablespoons of canola or peanut oil. Then cover the meat with the beef stock, stir in the paprika, thyme, tomato paste and anchovy paste. Cover the pot and reduce heat to low. After about an hour, test the meat for tenderness with a fork. If tender, add the potatoes, celery, carrots and onions and cook for at least another hour. Now's the time to add salt and pepper, if needed.
I hesitate to give exact cooking times. That will likely depend on the age, size and sex of the deer you've harvested. In other words, don't start preparing this stew two hours before dinner. Add some slack time, and reheat at serving time. Or, even better, cook it a day in advance, giving the flavors time to meld and serve it as first-time “leftovers.”
*An option to cooking the potatoes in the stew is to leave them out and serve the stew over mashed russet potatoes.
Florida Sportsman Magazine March 2020