Intro: Venison, Wild Rice, and Brown Ale Stew
This hearty stew is a delicious variation of traditional beef stews. It is a perfect way to prepare wild game as the long slow cooking time and unique flavors offer a compliment to the often lean qualities of wild game. Excellent on a fall day with fresh apple cider and homemade bread.
Don't like venison, no problem, just use a beef roast instead. Beef was used for these instructions because no one has given me any deer meat this year. Huntings not my thing but eating cooking is.
These instructions show instructions for preparing on a stove top but usually I tend to make it in a camp style dutch oven over a bed of charcoal.
Step 1: Ingedients and Supplies
Ingredients and Supplies
Tools and Implements
-6 Quart Enameled Cast Iron Dutch Oven or if cooking outside camp style Dutch Oven. I use Lodge for all my cast iron cookware.
-Sharp Knife (Chef or Santoku)
-Liquid Measuring Cup at least 2 Cups
-Swivel vegetable peeler
All vegetable amounts are approximate. This is cooking not baking, sloppy measuring is normally not a problem. Adjust to personal tastes.
-Several Tablespoons of Olive Oil
-Large Venison or Beef roast. You want a roast that holds up well to long slow cooking like a chuck
-2 medium onions (white or yellow)
-3-4 Stalks Celery or approx 1 ½ cups
-1 ½ cups Carrots ( I use baby carrots because I snack on them at other times.)
-1 cup Parsnips (optional. Not included in the pictures as I was out of them. Taste like a combination of Celery and Carrots with a twist)
-3-5 Garlic cloves (I almost always use more garlic then less)
-4 cups Beef Broth
-1/2 cup Steak Sauce
-1 bottle Brown Ale
-2 Tablespoons Tomato Paste
-¼ cup Worcestershire Sauce
-2-3 Tablespoons Beef Stock Base (Not pictures anywhere. This is a solid beef stock powder normally found by the liquid stocks and bullion cubes. Don't use bullion cubes)
-3 Bay leaves
-1 teaspoon Dill Weed
-1 teaspoon Thyme
-2 teaspoon Allspice (This is a key ingredient where the amount used drastically effects the final taste, if the taste is too strong to your liking don't go below 1 teaspoon)
-1 ½ to 2 cups potatoes (I always use russet but my brother always uses Yukon gold)\
-1 ½ cup Wild Rice
-water as needed
Step 2: Preparing the Meat
Preparing the Meat
Beef or Venison, they both taste great in this stew. Have someone who says they don't like the taste of venison but likes beef? Get them to try this, and as long as your prepare your meat properly they should like this.
Venison like many wild game meat often gets a bad rap for being "gamey" This is almost always attributable to improper field processing or improper preparing. A calm deer is a tasty deer. When a deer is startled they release a whole bunch of hormones into their body. It is possible for these to effect the taste of the deer. A good hunter who can wait for a proper shot will enjoy a better tasting deer. Male deer also are pumped full of testosterone when hunting season is in full swing that can effect the taste as well. Deer need to be properly field dressed and their glands and organs need to be removed as soon as possible for best taste.
Separate your roast into the separate muscle groups with your knife. This will allow you to remove any large hard chucks of fat and connective tissue. Also trim any silver skin from the meat. These steps are more important in the venison then beef. Not removing these in deer can be a cause of the gamey taste. You don't have to get all of it off the meat in beef as the long slow cook times will turn the connective tissue into flavor.
Now cut up the meat into approximately 1 inch cubes. Set your burner to medium high. Add enough olive oil to cover the bottom of the pan. Let the oil heat until it starts to mover around by itself and shimmer. Salt and Pepper the meat. Add meat to oil. We want to brown the outside of the meat while leaving the center medium rare. You may have to brown the meat in more then one batch depending on the size of your roast. Don't overcrowd the meat. When the outside is brown, remove the meat into the small bowl and set aside.
When the meat is browning prepare the onions
Step 3: Preparing the Onions and Celery
Preparing the Onions and Celery
Cut up your onions in your preferred method. I cut off the ends then remove the outer skin. I then chop the onions in half. Set the flat side down and slice one way. I then slice the other way. There are several members of my family who hate/get sick from large onion pieces, so I always dice into very fine pieces when I cook.
Slice the celery stalks into medium slices. You should slice thicker then I have shown as the thin slices don't hold up all the way to the long cook time.
Drain most of the oil from the dutch oven (from now on referred to as just “oven”) after the beef has been browned and removed. Add the onions and celery to the oven. Cook the onion mix (stiring occasionally) until the onions start to caramelize and all the delicious brown bits form on the bottom of the oven.
While to onions/celery cook prepare the carrots and garlic.
Step 4: Preparing the Garlic and Carrots (and Parsnips)
Preparing the Garlic and Carrots (and Parsnips)
While the Onions and Celery carmelize, prepare the carrots, parsnips (if used), and garlic.
Slice the carrots into medium slices. I only stock baby carrots as I use them for snacks and don't want to have to prepare large size carrots. Plus I think they taste better raw, being a little sweeter. Feel free to use regular carrots especially if you like large soup “pieces”
Parsnips are prepared almost the same way as carrots are. Use a vegetable peeler to peel the parsnips. Cut off the large stem end and discard. (These can be frozen and added to when you make vegetable stock.) Smaller parsnips are often a better buy as the larger ones sometimes have a pithy center. If you have a large parsnip slice in quarters long ways. Now cut out the center core from the quarters. Slice the quarters as you would a carrot.
Peel and dice the garlic cloves. You could use a garlic press instead if you like. The best way I've found to peel and dice the clove is thus. Cut off the stem end of each garlic clove. Place the clove under the large flat side of the knife (Chef or Santoku) with the blade away from your less dominate hand for safety sake. Take you less dominate hand and make a fist. Pound the knife blade flat with a quick pound. The garlic will crush and the skin will peel right off. Sprinkle the garlic with salt, and cut into tiny pieces. The salt helps retain the garlic juices and flavor.
Add the carrots, parsnips, and garlic to the oven. The moisture from the carrots will start to deglaze the bottom of all those brown bits. If all the bits do not remove add a tablespoon or two of water. Cook the new mixture a few minutes until the flavors all bloom and the new vegetables start to soften.
Step 5: Adding the Liquid and Flavorings
Adding the Liquid and Flavorings
Add the beef broth to the oven.
Add the Ale to the oven. Poor slowly as the ale will make it foam a bit.
Add the steak sauce, Worcestershire sauce, and the tomato paste.
Stir all this goodness together until well mixed.
Add water if needed to almost fill the oven. Leave room for the displacement of the potatoes and rice later. Add the beef stock base using more if lots of water was added and less if little water was added. Why use liquid beef stock and a dry soup base? Most bought beef broth or stock doesn't have much beef flavor. The beef soup base is a much stronger concentration of flavor and also adds salt and fat. To balance to amounts of salt and fat we split up our liquids and get the best of both worlds. I also recommend this procedure for chicken flavored soups (not one where chicken stock is used but it is not the main flavor component)
Taste to soup and add salt and pepper to meet your taste requirements. I use much less salt then the cooks and chefs of TV in my cooking, but a soup is one place salt really belongs. It really makes all the flavors pop. That being said with the two stocks used I usually don't add any more. This is why everyone says “salt to taste” as each persons ideal is different.
Now add the dill, thyme, bay and allspice. The allspice is a key ingredient and its amount really makes or breaks the stew. My brother's original recipe contained way too much for my tastes. I've reduced it here but if you finish the soup and feel somethings missing adjust this up. The allspice is a seasoning that goes really well with the venison and other wild game. Stir in the spices really well. They will probably want to float on top.
By now the stew should be at a boil or just at it. We will want to reduce the heat and cook it slow at a simmer, but first spoon off any grease or oil floating on the top of the stew.
Cover the dutch oven with the lid. Reduce heat to low. Now simmer the stew for 3 hours. That’s right 3 hours. The long slow cook time will super tenderize the meat, beak down any connective tissue and fat, and really blend the flavors. Every so often remove the lid and skim off any oil with a spoon. Stir the stew and replace the lid. Try to keep the stew from reaching a hard boil. Letting a soup or stew hard boil is a no no as the fat can bind with the broth and effect the taste and color. That is the main reason we keep scooping off the fat.
A tip on the leftover tomato paste. Take an empty ice cube tray and line it with plastic wrap. Spoon the leftover paste into the ice wells. Freeze. When frozen pop out the paste cubes and store in a ziplock freezer bag. Now when a recipe calls for a small amount of tomato paste (don't they all) you have the perfect ammount. Just pop a cube into the recipe.
Step 6: Finishing It Up With Potatoes and Rice
Finishing it up with Potatoes and Rice
Peel your potatoes with the vegetable peeler. Cube them into approximately 3/4 inch cubes
Add to oven.
Add the wild rice.
Cook another 45 minutes to 1 hr for the rice and potatoes to be done. My brother likes to add the rice with the spices. This totally explodes the rice from the long cooking as you can see in my pictures. I like it both ways but prefer a rice grain.
When the potatoes and rice are done its ready. Man well worth the wait. Serve it up with some Cider or more brown ale and some crusty bread. Perfect around a campfire or a dinner table.
Variations I've thought of but not tried:
Other root vegetables like turnips should work well in this stew.
Pearl barley would pair nice with or replace the wild rice.
Mixing up the beer could drastically change the flavor. I've had plenty of beef stews with Guiness in them so that would be my first switch.
Let me know if you try this and like it.