This stew started with a recipe someone photocopied and gave to us years ago, which I adapted and simplified to fit the kinds of hearty, rustic flavors I thought better suited the venison. I used two pounds of cubed venison, for which you could substitute beef or pork. We butcher our own deer, and you can see in the photo that we keep it lean, so you need more cooking oil if using a lean cut of meat in the stew.
I really dislike the taste and texture of potatoes in this stew and don’t think it needs any starchy accompaniment, but I could see serving it with rice or noodles, if you really need that.
Earthy Venison Stew
- 2 lbs venison, cut in one inch cubes
- 1/3 cup flour
- 1/2 teaspoon pepper
- 4 tablespoons olive oil (or more—venison is very lean)
- 1 large onion, diced
- 6-8 oz cremini or baby portobello mushrooms, halved or quartered
- 2 large cloves garlic, minced
- 1/4 cup tomato paste
- 1/4 cup orange juice
- 3-4 cups venison or beef stock
- 4-6 carrots, sliced (not too thinly, because they need to stand up to long cooking)
- 3-4 cups fresh green beans, cut in about one inch lengths
- 10 juniper berries, crushed, tied in cheesecloth
- 1/2 cup dried cherries, unsweetened if you can find them (good luck)
- Salt to taste
- Shake venison with flour and pepper until coated. Heat olive oil in large pot or dutch oven over medium high heat. Brown cubes in small batches to brown evenly. Remove meat to platter until all is browned.
- Reduce heat to medium. In same pan, adding more oil, if needed, add onion. Cook until translucent, then add mushrooms and garlic. Cook until the mushrooms have begun to brown.
- Stir in tomato paste until well blended.
- Return browned meat to pan with orange juice and 2 cups beef stock. Bring to boil, cover and simmer for 30 minutes.
- Raise heat to medium again. Add carrots, green beans, and juniper berry package. Add at least one more cup of beef stock—you’re trying here to make sure you are making a stew, not a soup. Bring to boil and then cover and simmer for 45 minutes to an hour.
- Remove juniper berry packet. Stir in dried cherries. Cover and simmer for 30 minutes, using the last cup of stock, if needed.
The floured meat thickens the gravy, but you could add more thickener if you find you need it. Serve the stew in a bowl or over rice or noodles. The combination of venison, mushrooms, juniper berries, and cherries creates a unique flavor that is perfect on a cold winter night. It would be even better in a cabin in the woods with the fireplace flickering.