Moose (or venison) Stew

Moose (or venison) Stew

Okay, time to get back the basics of what I would refer to as “rugged food!”  Stew – whether you use moose, venison, grouse, rabbit or even chicken… a good stew is hard to beat.  As I type this on November 10, 2013, it’s a surprisingly cold day out there – minus 26 Celsius with the wind chill factored in.  Even though I’m sitting about fifteen feet from my woodstove, my nipples are hard just thinking about it… and my onions are well… I guess I’ll try to find them later on.

I recall once about 15 years ago, while on a week-long deer hunting trip with “the boys,” we had a young whitetail hanging at the end of the first day.  Well, the tenderloins and backstraps were gone in an hour or so… and then I cut some pieces off one of the hinds (round roasts) and started a big ol’ pot of stew.  And, yes, it went over well.  Very well, as there is nothing better or more rugged than cooking and eating something you just hunted… especially, if the cooking is done over an open fire.

This recipe will make enough for about a medium or medium-large sized pot or Dutch oven (pictured.)

Ingredients (Hey, Albert Einstein… This is all dependent on the size of your stewing pot!)

  • 2 pounds of moose or venison, cubed
  • 1 small can tomatoes or a couple of fresh ones, bashed up a bit
  • 4 or 5 stalks of celery rough chopped (use the tops too!)
  • 2 or 3 small onions, rough chopped
  • 3 or 4 carrots, rough chopped
  • 2 or 3 medium sized potatoes, rough chopped
  • You can also add some turnip, whole corn, peas, green or yellow beans… it’s stew for chrise sake, so add just  about whatever the hell you want, depending on the size of your pot…
  • 2 or 3 cloves of garlic, rough chopped
  • 2 or 3 leaves of bay
  • 2 – 907 ml sized (1 litre or 1 quart) containers of beef broth (or beef stock if you have any or if you can get it)
  • Splash of red wine (Optional, but it will help to tenderize the meat, the same as the tomato will do)
  • Splash of Worcestershire sauce (Optional, but if you do use some, go easy on that damn stuff as its flavour is quite intense)
  • 1 tablespoon of each – dry rubbed oregano, basil and parsley
  • Canola or vegetable oil
  • Salt & pepper
  • Approximately ½ cup of butter (For the roux)
  • Approximately ½ cup flour (For the roux)

Directions

Okay, let’s rock the living hell out of this ultra-rugged meal!

Preheat a cast iron Dutch oven to medium high.  Most pots will do, but it must have a heavy bottom, otherwise, the food will stick badly – and then you’ll get all pissed off and start yelling at your kids!

Drizzle some canola or vegetable oil and cover the bottom of the heated pot.

Add the chopped up vegetables and garlic.  Season with salt & pepper.  Stir occasionally and cook for about ten minutes or so.  We want to achieve a little bit of colour and really get the flavours moving.  Remove the veggies from the pot and let them rest in a bowl.  The only reason we remove the vegetables after they are cooked is to make room for the meat.  Up next…

Do the same with the moose or venison and season it also.  Add the tomato at this time.  The tomato, which is very acidic, is mainly used to help in tenderizing the meat.  You can use small can tomato paste if you like.

You might need to add a bit more cooking oil to the pot first… We want to brown the moose meat (caramelize) which will really give us great flavour.  Once the meat is browned, add the vegetables and garlic back into the pot.  Your pot will seem quite full at this point, but don’t worry, as those vegetables will shrink as they continue to cook.

Add the beef broth and a splash of red wine if you like.  Okay, now here is where you must use your brain power… you may need to add some water.  I can’t say for sure, because I don’t know how big your pot is, right???  All the meat and veg should be covered.

Let this simmer for a couple hours or so… when the meat is very tender, your stew is almost done.  All we have to do now is thicken it.  Obviously, as this whole thing cooks, the liquid will reduce, so adding more water or broth will be necessary.  Taste it from time to time and be prepared to add more dry herbs, salt or pepper.

In a medium sized pot, melt the butter and add the flour.  This is the roux that will thicken your stew (or soup, or gravy, or sauce, or, or, or…) Cook these two ingredients together for a few minutes until you achieve a thick paste type mixture.  (See the “RD’s Cooking Tips” page for more thorough instructions on how to make and use a roux.)

Start adding the roux to your stew, a little at a time.  Stir it… you’ll see how quickly this works as a thickening agent.  Over a period of about five minutes, add a little at a time until you have the thickness you desire.  You may have to make more roux… again, I don’t know exactly how much stew you’re making or how big the pot is that you’re using.  If it ends up too thick, add some water or more broth if you have any left.

You’re stew is all done!  Oh, remember, that if you have any cement heads over for dinner, tell them not to eat the goddam bay leaves!

And, if you want to make a grouse, rabbit, pheasant or a chicken stew, just replace the beef broth with chicken broth.  Use white wine rather than red… genius!

“Pound ‘er down!”

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