Once again, I owe everyone an apology for taking such a long time in between posts. My initial goal was to post 1-2x a week, but with life being the way it always seems to be with me (busy and semi-unpredictable) that’s not always possible. Regardless, I’m going to push myself to provide you all with as many yummy recipes as possible over the next few weeks to give you ideas of things to make for the upcoming holidays.
The temps have finally dropped here in Dallas. I kind of laugh because as I type this it’s 86 and sunny… in the middle of November. Oh, gotta love Texas weather! Regardless, the temps are going to once again drop tomorrow and so it’s a perfect time to start making soups and stews!!
A few months back my co-worker, Andrea, gave me some Axis meat. It was all wrapped up in butcher paper and some of it wasn’t marked. I had what I thought was a package of venison steaks, so I began researching venison stew recipes. I stumbled across one by Emeril Lagasse that looked and sounded amazing, so off I went to the store.
Do you ever tell yourself, “You really should do that,” but then find yourself forgetting to do it? Well, that’s what happened with me. I knew I should have opened the butcher paper to verify the contents of it, but I forgot. Sure enough, I get back from the store, I have all my ingredients for the stew prepped and I go to open the package and what do I find? Bacon-wrapped jalapeños stuffed with cheddar cheese and axis meat. Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m super excited to taste these bad boys, but unfortunately it wasn’t what I needed. So… off to the store I went for some stew meat. ;)
The best thing about soups and stews is they’re hard to mess up. They don’t require much skill, other than a bit of knife work with the veggies and herbs. This recipe is pretty straight-forward and produces an incredibly flavorful, hearty stew. I served it with some crusty bread and it was perfection!
Before I get to the recipe, I want to share some quick tips about chopping fresh thyme and basil. In order to remove fresh thyme, simple hold the top of the stalk with one hand and run your fingers down the length with your other hand (top left picture). This will quickly remove the thyme and then you can simply chop it a bit more. To cut basil, first you need to stack the leaves and then roll them up (top right picture). Then you cut the roll into slices (bottom left picture). This is called a chiffonade cut. Then you roughly chop to the desired size (bottom right picture).
Adapted from Venison Stew
Yield: 8 servings
3 Tablespoons olive oil
2 pounds stew meat, cut into cubes (see note below)
1/4 cup flour
3 Tablespoons Essence, recipe follows
2 cups chopped yellow onion
1 cup chopped celery
1 cup chopped carrots
1 Tablespoon chopped garlic
1 cup diced tomatoes (see note below)
1 Tablespoon chopped fresh basil
1 Tablespoon chopped fresh thyme
2 bay leaves
1 cup red wine (optional)
4 cups brown stock, or more as needed (see note below)
1 pound red new potatoes, quartered
Salt and black pepper, to taste
2 1/2 Tablespoons paprika
2 Tablespoons salt
2 Tablespoons garlic powder
1 Tablespoon black pepper
1 Tablespoon onion powder
1 Tablespoon cayenne pepper
1 Tablespoon dried leaf oregano
1 Tablespoon dried thyme
1. Combine all ingredients for Essence and store in an airtight container. You’ll only use a couple Tablespoons for this recipe, so the rest can be saved for later use.
2. In a mixing bowl, toss the beef cubes with the flour and approximately 3 Tablespoons of Essence; set aside. Note: The stew has a slight kick to it which I enjoy, but if you are sensitive to spicy foods you might lower it to 2 – 2 1/2 Tablespoons.
3. In a large pot or dutch oven, over high heat, add the olive oil. When the oil is hot, sear the meat for 2 to 3 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the onions and sauté for 2 minutes. Add the celery and carrots and sauté for 2 minutes.
4. Deglaze the pan with the red wine, ensuring all brown bits on the bottom are scraped and released into the soup. This is where you get all the yummy flavor!
5. Add the garlic, tomatoes, basil, thyme, bay leaves and brown stock to the pan. Bring the liquid up to a boil, cover and reduce to a simmer.
6. Simmer the stew for 45 minutes to 1 hour, or until the meat is very tender. Check halfway through the cooking time to ensure there is enough liquid. Add more stock, as desired or needed.
7. Turn heat up to medium and add the cubed potatoes. Cover and cook for about 15 minutes, or until the potatoes are fork tender. Be careful not to overcook!
8. Ladle stew into bowls and serve with crusty bread.
1. Most grocery stores sell stew meat already cubed and ready for use. If you’re unable to find it, simply look for chuck, chuck roast, chuck shoulder, bottom round roast or rump roast. There are plenty more cuts that’ll work, but those are the basics. Do not waste your money on fancy cuts of meat!
2. Make it easy on yourself and pick up a small can of diced, stewed tomatoes. I just tossed in a small can, juices and all.
3. The original recipe calls for 4 cups of beef stock, but I used 6. I added potatoes to the stew, which were not included in the original recipe, and they’ll absorb some of the stock. After 1 hour of cooking my stew reduced quite a lot, so the 6 cups was perfect.