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Venison Bourguignon

Normally I like a hearty stew and this one fits the bill – but it’s so much more than “just” another stew. This one has a bit of work involved before you can put it in a pot and forget about it for a while. But all of that work just adds one layer of flavor on to another, creating a dish with complex, delicious, stick-to-your-ribs goodness.

I used venison in place of beef in this recipe, but either can be used.

You can make this in a crockpot, or in your oven. Use an oven and stovetop safe vessel such as a dutch oven.

Ingredients:

  • a few strips of bacon, chopped
  • 3-1/2tb olive oil
  • 3lbs stew meat, cut into 2 inch cubes
  • 1 carrot, sliced
  • 1 onion, sliced
  • salt and pepper
  • 1tb tomato paste
  • 2tb flour
  • 3c red wine
  • 2-1/2 to 3-1/2 c beef stock
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2ts thyme
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 4 parsley sprigs

Method:

  1. Begin by patting the meat dry, then salting and peppering to taste. Dry meat will sear, wet meat will not so be sure this is done to ensure nicely browned stew meat.
  2. Preheat your skillet over medium-high heat. When your pan is hot, add the bacon. Cook bacon until brown and crisp, remove from pan and set in your dutch oven or crockpot. Drain all but enough fat to coat the skillet with about an extra teaspoon or so. Set the drained fat aside.
  3. Begin browning the stew meat. This should be done in batches so the meat does not overcrowd the skillet, causing it to cook more than it needs to before it properly browns.
  4. As you are browning the stew meat, be sure you aren’t forcing it off the skillet if it seems stuck. Give it a minute or two more before turning – once a crust has developed it will release its self from your skillet if the skillet was properly heated first. If you find yourself needing more fat, add more of the bacon fat you took out.
  5. Remove stew meat and place in the dutch oven or crock pot. Deglaze the skillet with a bit of red wine – about half a cup or so. Scrape the bottom of the skillet to release the brown bits, then pour the liquid into the dutch oven or crockpot.
  6. Add more bacon fat to the skillet, and do another batch of meat. Remove meat once fully browned, deglaze, and repeat the process until all of the meat has been cooked.
  7. Add more bacon grease after the last batch of meat has been removed and skilet deglazed. Add carrots and onions. Season with salt and pepper. Stir and saute until lightly golden and soft. Add tomato paste and cook a bit longer.
  8. Sprinkle flour over carrots and onions, and cook until it just barely begins to turn color.
  9. Add the remaining red wine to deglaze the skillet and cook until it reduces by about a third.
  10. Pour vegetables and liquid into your dutch oven or crockpot. Add remaining ingredients and stir with a teaspoon of salt.

**Traditionally, this is finished with mushrooms and pearl onions. My husband hates mushrooms and I didn’t have pearl onions on hand when I made this originally. Given the chance, I might try pearl onions in the future if I ever remember to buy them, otherwise I don’t think we missed them.

If cooking by crockpot, cook on low 6-8 hours.

If cooking in oven, preheat to 300F. Bring contents of a dutch oven or other oven safe pot to a simmer on the stove, then place into the oven and cook for about 2 hours, then checking often until done. Meat should be falling apart when its done.

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