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
- 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
- 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.
- 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.
- While aromatics are cooking, toss venison cubes with flour.
- Once aromatics are done, remove from skillet and place in slow cooker, along with diced potatoes and turnips.
- 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.
- 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.
- Add water and remaining beer to slow cooker, cover, and cook for 3 hours on high.
- Before serving, season with salt and pepper to taste. Goes very nicely with crusty bread!