Venison Stew Perfected!

I’ve been eating venison stew since I was knee high to a grasshopper, but my own attempts to make it have never quite turned into the lovely melding of vegetable and meat and broth that I remember so fondly.  I’ve tried stovetop recipes, oven recipes, and even one disastrous slow cooker recipe, and they all turned out to be recipes for disaster.  Or, at the very least, overcooked meat and flavorless vegetables wallowing in watery goo.  So when I found myself craving a good fall stew, I thawed out a package of elk steak and decided to give it one last stab.  I had a few errands to run during the day, so I went with the slow cooker method so it could cook pretty much unattended once I got it going.

I scrounged the fridge for vegetables, and took stock of what I had for ingredients:

I cut up the vegetables into pretty large dice, about 3/4″ pieces, so they wouldn’t disintegrate during the slow cooking.

I also cut the venison into fairly large chunks, about 1-1/2″ cubes.  I wanted enough surface area to sear well, big enough pieces that they wouldn’t be overcooked after 3 hours or so in the slow cooker, but small enough chunks to be bite sized.

I used a 5-qt. slow cooker and it fit very nicely (I’m always tempted to use the smaller of our two slow cookers…not sure why, since I nearly always end up sizing up!).  You can see, it’s pretty full even in the bigger size:

I wasn’t sure that my method would work in the end, but I figured it was worth a shot, and I’m super happy to report that it turned out fantastically!  It was hands down the best venison stew I’ve ever made, and possibly ever had.

Slow Cooker Venison Stew

Print this recipe!

Ingredients:

  • 2 slices bacon
  • 3 T. butter, divided
  • 1 yellow onion, cut into 1/2″ dice
  • 2 large carrots (about 1/2 a pound altogether), cut into 3/4″ dice
  • 2 stalks celery, cut into 3/4″ dice
  • 4 small white potatoes (about 1/2 a pound altogether), cut into 3/4″ dice
  • 3 small golden turnips (about 1/2 pound altogether), peeled, cut into 3/4″ dice
  • 1 to 1-1/2 lb. venison stew meat, cut into 1-1/2″ cubes
  • 4 T. flour, seasoned with salt and pepper
  • 1 lb. small mushrooms, halved
  • 1 bottle Oktoberfest beer
  • 1 c. water

Method:

  1. Heat a large skillet over low heat.  Add bacon and cook, turning occasionally, till bacon is golden and has rendered a bit of fat.  Remove bacon from pan and set aside.
  2. Add onion, celery, and carrot pieces to skillet, along with a tablespoon of butter.  Cook over medium low heat till softened, 5-6 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  3. While aromatics are cooking, toss venison cubes with flour.
  4. Once aromatics are done, remove from skillet and place in slow cooker, along with diced potatoes and turnips.
  5. Heat a tablespoon of butter in the skillet over medium high heat and add venison.  Cook a minute or so on each side, just long enough to sear.  Remove from skillet and add to slow cooker.
  6. Add final tablespoon butter to skillet and heat.  Add mushrooms and saute 2-3 minutes, stirring frequently.  Pour in a little of the beer and deglaze the pan, then add skillet contents to the slow cooker.
  7. Add water and remaining beer to slow cooker, cover, and cook for 3 hours on high.
  8. Before serving, season with salt and pepper to taste.  Goes very nicely with crusty bread!
Advertisements

Squash Soup!

I’ve been craving squash soup for a while now (and thanks to my hefty squash haul from the end of the CSA season, I have lots of squash to choose from!). In the past week I’ve had a wicked chest cold, so I’ve been doubly craving soup, but hadn’t gotten around to making anything more ambitious than beans on toast. A few days ago, I roasted some squash and happily roasted a bit too much for one meal, which means I could make a really quick soup, to boot! I did some lazy googling to find a recipe, but nothing I found really tickled my fancy…some called for apples (which I don’t have on hand), some for sour cream, and one even called for cabbage (eew, I think?).  Not what I wanted, exactly.

I knew wanted something spicy and sweet and creamy, and all the recipes I dug up ended up being somehow lacking, so I struck out on my own. I started with roasted spaghetti squash, curry powder and cream, but that’s hardly a soup! For the sweet part, I relied on the natural sweetness of the squash, plus a little apple cider. For the spice, I added some curry powder plus some crushed red chili flakes. For the creamy bit, I really wanted to use coconut milk, but alas, my pantry did not have a can lurking in the shadows (a first!), so I went with some heavy whipping cream. I also wanted to use an onion (for a bit more bite), and a bit of lemon juice to perk it all up. I contemplated adding potatoes to the mix, but decided I didn’t feel like washing and boiling spuds–and cubed spuds were out of the question–I wanted a creamy smooth soup, no chunks. I also had a jar of onion stock lurking in the fridge (from a roast we made a few weeks ago). Surprisingly, it came together very easily (a good 45 minutes before I’d planned, even!), so I thought I’d take my new-found spare time to share the recipe.

20111019-191948.jpg

Ridiculously Easy Curried Squash Soup

Ingredients:

  • 2 T. butter
  • 1 yellow onion, diced
  • 2-3 T. hot curry powder (more or less to taste)
  • 4-5 lb. winter squash, roasted or boiled
  • 2 c. vegetable broth/onion stock or water
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 c. heavy whipping cream

Method:

  1. Heat butter in a dutch oven over medium heat. Add onion and cook, stirring occasionally, till golden.
  2. Add curry powder and cook till fragrant, then add broth and squash. Cook 5-10 minutes, till heated through, then puree using immersion blender.
  3. Taste, and season with salt and pepper.
  4. Remove from heat and gently stir in cream. Taste and adjust seasonings as needed.

Still here, I swear!

OK, it’s been a long time since my last post, but that’s only because I’ve had a lot in the hopper, and not gotten anything really finished!  One project in particular has me pretty busy most weeknights, but I don’t want to post too much about it just in case someone does actually read this blog (it’s a gift…nothing worse than giving your surprise away through your own stupidity, right?!)…

But, with that said, I will give you a peek of what I’m up to (and what my couch and jammies look like, to boot…lucky you!…I promise, the plaid in no way goes in any part of this project!).

Yes, that’s some bright orange knitting going on there…and more colors to come!  I thought it would take a lot longer to make this than it is, so I’ll probably be done long before christmas rolls around…which makes me a little sad since I’ll have to wait a long time till I can show you the finished goods!