As I write this in early November, it is 0 degrees outside my little Wyoming hamlet. When it gets that cold, the first thing that comes to the epicurean portion of my mind is stew—a warm rich and satisfying bowl of stew. Since I got a nice buck last week, it was only natural for me to put together a hearty stew. One of the great things about stew is that it is an adaptable recipe. You can add or subtract, replace and revise the recipe to suit your tastes and what you have on hand. The following is pretty much my go-to recipe for a rib-sticking stew. But it is always subject to revision pending my tastes.
1½ to 2 pounds of venison cubed to 3/4 to 1 inch
½ cup olive oil
2 tablespoons Cavendar's All Purpose Greek Seasoning
2 fist-sized rose potatoes
½ cup baby carrots
1 pound whole mushrooms
1 10-ounce can beefy mushroom soup
1 10-ounce can French onion soup
16 ounces burgundy (2 cups)
½ teaspoon cumin
½ teaspoon celery salt
3 bay leaves
4 to 5 tablespoons flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon ground black pepper
Cover the cubed venison with Cavendar’s All Purpose Greek Seasoning and place in a bowl just big enough to hold it. Add a few tablespoons of olive oil to cover the meat without displacing the seasoning. Cover with clear plastic wrap and allow it to marinate 4 to 5 hours in a cool place. Do not put in the refrigerator unless it is very warm.
Cover the bottom of a Dutch oven with the remaining olive oil and put it on high heat. Just before the oil starts smoking, add the marinated meat. Stir frequently to lightly brown the meat. Turn down the heat about one third of its max and add the soups and burgundy. (If you have an issue with alcohol consumption, don’t worry. The alcohol boils off quickly, leaving nothing but the acids and flavors.) Cube the potatoes and add them to the pot, along with the baby carrots. Wash each of the mushrooms to ensure no growing medium remains on them (given that it’s often cow or horse manure), and add them to the pot. Now add the salt, celery salt, cumin and black pepper and mix thoroughly. Add the bay leaves. Simmer for about 45 minutes, then sprinkle in and mix the flour to thicken the gravy. Go slow and don’t add too much. Let the stew simmer for another 5 to 10 minutes and serve. If you want leftovers, plan on doubling the recipe because most will want to eat until they are stuffed.