Dinner: German Venison Stew

This recipe happens to be a lovely mix of my German and redneck ancestries. It is a take on a Tyrolean Game Stew, but instead of using a few pounds of liver, gizzards, and meat from any number of varmint I will be using some lean venison stew meat provided by my dad after this year’s hunting season. This recipe has quite a few steps, some of which I don’t understand, but for the sake of following this recipe as best as I can I’ll stifle my complaints and just go with them.

Of course, not everyone has access to venison. If your family is lacking someone with a hunting license and the time to sit in a tree stand for hours on end, feel free to use beef. The main differences you’ll notice immediately is how lean and dark the venison is- it’s a beautiful shade of burgundy, almost purple in some cuts. Your mind will instantly tell you, “This is the red meat I should always be putting into my body!” As far as the taste, venison does have a slightly stronger flavor. A good deer that had been foraging on a healthy diet and then properly cleaned and butchered shouldn’t have much of that notorious ‘gamey’ taste.

Here we go!

You’ll need:
2 lbs of venison stew meat, cubed into uniform chunks
5 cups of water
3 Tbs of white vinegar
1 carrot, peeled and sliced
1 stalk of celery, sliced
1 leek, sliced and thoroughly washed
1 onion, sliced
8-10 peppercorns
4 cloves
1 bay leaf
4 slices of diced bacon, or 2 Tbs of bacon drippings or butter
2 Tbs flour
1 Tbs sugar
½ cup of red wine

1. Add your spices (the clove, bay leaf, peppercorns) and veggies (leek, onion, carrot, celery) to the 5 cups of water and white vinegar. Salt the water, like if you were cooking pasta. Bring to a simmer and add the venison.

2. In a separate pot on medium-high heat, add your bacon and fry until the fat has rendered out. If you’re not using bacon, melt down the butter or bacon drippings. Remove the bacon (if you’re using it) and add the flour. This is called a roux, and will give your stew a gravy-like consistency. Take your time with this, and do not walk away! Baby it. Love it. Nurture it. If given time (about 8-10 minutes), it will develop a nutty smell and a deep, rich color.

Starting to cook the roux...

Starting to cook the roux…

3. Once you get the roux to the color of cocoa powder, add the sugar. Sugar burns quickly, so let it cook only another minute or two and do not walk away.

4. Whisk in 3 cups of the simmering venison broth, one cup at a time. Let it simmer for 10 minutes, and whisk vigorously to make sure the lumps get out. photo

5. Drain the meat and veggies from the broth. Add the meat and veggies to your gravy along with the red wine, and toss the remaining broth.

6. Let this simmer together for another 20 minutes uncovered.

German Venison Stew

German Venison Stew

Sides: Roasted Potatoes

I just got home from work, and I’m beat. I’ve been looking at Excel spreadsheets all day, coding surveys and thinking of how to analyze them. I will not be going to the gym as planned. I will be looking for leftovers to heat up so I don’t have to think. Thankfully there is no derby practice tonight. I just want to put on my pajama-jams and zone out while watching a History Channel documentary of The Dark Ages on Netflix.

But first, the stressed-out hormones in me are calling for tasty carbohydrate comfort on this soon-to-be-44-degree night. Since the gym is a no-go, so are French fries. Luckily there are a few things that are go-to dishes for me that feel much more decadent than they are to make. Roasted veggies are one of those things. I’ll roast anything, especially veggies if it means that I’ll eat them! I happen to have those cute little multicolored potatoes that cost far too much for me to buy any other time aside from BOGO.

Colorful baby potatoes!

Colorful baby potatoes!

To make me feel a little healthier still, I happen to have some carrots that haven’t made their way into a soup. Roasted carrots are my favorite way to eat them. Their natural sugars caramelize and leave a totally different flavor profile from raw or steamed, both of which I’m not a big fan of.

Oh, look. See how much healthier that just got?

Oh, look. See how much healthier that just got?

I know this recipe sounds a little bit like a cop-out, but the key to taking plain ol’ potatoes and carrots to something really delicious are the spices. Season liberally with salt and pepper, and rosemary just brings out the earthiness. I like to make a little extra and save some for in the morning, when I’ll top them with eggs over medium and some cheese. My favorite meat to serve them alongside hands down is my roast chicken. I’ll be sure to post that recipe eventually…

You’ll need:

A sheet pan lined with tin foil (less clean up, yo!)

About 2-3 cups of your favorite potato and/or root veggies

A heavy drizzle of good olive oil

Rosemary, fresh or dried

Salt & pepper

1. Preheat your oven to 425 degrees.

2. Cut up your veggies into uniform chunks, about ½ inch by ½ inch. This will make sure everything cooks at about the same time.

3. Pile your veggies into the center of your lined sheet pan and drizzle with olive oil. Sprinkle liberally with salt and pepper. If you’re using fresh rosemary, mince it up and add them. If you’re using dried be sure to go a little lighter (dried herbs have more concentrated flavor) and be sure to pinch as you sprinkle to release the flavor. Roll everything around so it gets nicely coated, and spread your veggies out into an even layer.

4. Bake for 25 minutes until everything is fork-tender and crispy on the outside! If it needs a little longer (some ovens do) then give it another 5-10 minutes until it’s done to your liking.

Chicken stuffed with mushrooms from the store, steamed broccoli and roasted potatoes and carrots!

Chicken stuffed with mushrooms from the store, steamed broccoli and roasted potatoes and carrots!

Lunch: Rosemary and White Bean Soup

This is based off of one of Ina Garten’s recipes out of The Barefoot Contessa Cookbook. I’m a big fan of her recipes because many times they are timeless classics with just a few ingredients. Like all soups, this one tastes even better as leftovers. It makes a big batch, which you can divide into single servings and freeze for an easy dinner or lunch later in the week.

You’ll need:

1 lb Great Northern beans, soaked overnight in water

3 onions, sliced

¼ cup of olive oil

2 garlic cloves, minced

1 branch of rosemary (fresh should be used, but if you can’t find even a little plant at your grocery store use about 1 Tbs dried)

2 quarts chicken stock (or vegetable stock for a vegan option)

1 bay leaf

Salt and Pepper to taste

  1. Sautee your onions in the olive oil until they are translucent.
  2. Add your minced garlic and continue cooking for another 3 minutes.

    The ingredients to a rosemary and white bean soup.

    The ingredients to a rosemary and white bean soup.

  3. Add the drained beans, stock, rosemary, and bay leaf. Bring to a simmer and let it cook for about 40-45 minutes. The beans will be very soft when done.
  4. Remove the rosemary branch (if fresh was used) and the bay leaf. Ladle into a food processor or blender, but reserve a cup or two if you like your soup with some texture. Pulse until roughly pureed.
  5. Pour soup back into the pot, season with salt and pepper to your liking, and serve hot with crusty bread and a salad.

    Rosemary and White Bean soup with french bread and Mettwurst

    Rosemary and White Bean soup with french bread and Mettwurst

Punk’s Eating

Lazy dinner... Rice penne with Rao's Homemade marina sauce and, of course, beer.

Lazy dinner… Rice penne with Rao’s Homemade marinara sauce and, of course, beer.

Some times we just don’t feel like cooking. Usually I buy the typical BOGO jarred sauce from the supermarket, let it sit on the shelf, and by the time I open the jar it will go bad before I even finish it. Not the case with Rao’s. I bought it after my fellow foodie Kayla Rose justified the $6.99 (on sale) price tag. So one night after the gym I needed to make a quick and easy dinner and gave it a shot. Just smelling the sauce hitting the hot pasta was enough to do me in. There was such a freshness to the tomatoes despite it being a jarred sauces, and the flavors were so intense. I knew this was a winner when I threw away the empty container. This week it was on sale again, and I actually had to resist the urge not to buy 2!