Wednesday, January 06, 2010

A Year of Deer, Episode 1: Hunter's Venison Stew

As I mentioned in an earlier post, Travis went hunting while we were in Michigan for Thanksgiving and shot a good-sized doe. We dropped the deer off to be processed before we left for home at the end of that weekend, and Travis' parents collected it from the butcher and kept it for us until last week, when we were able to take it with us at the end of our brief post-Christmas visit.

So, my freezer is now full of venison in various forms (ground, steaks, and chops). Monday night I caught Travis opening the freezer at least 3 times, just to gaze with satisfaction on the meaty bounty within. Not very energy-efficient, but rather endearing. I love that man.

Since we'll be eating our way through that stash over the coming year, I've decided to chronicle our meals here on my blog, under the heading "A Year of Deer." Last night's dinner was my first foray into cooking (and eating) the stuff. I made "Hunter's Venison Stew" from the cookbook Travis picked up in Michigan last week, called I'm Hooked, I'm Game. (The left side of the spiral-bound cookbook is all recipes for fish, while the other side has recipes for venison, pheasant, goose, duck, rabbit, etc.)

The ingredients: the stew consisted of cubed venison steak, carrots, potatoes, onions, and stewed tomatoes. I served it with fresh-baked crescent rolls and a bottle of White Merlot.

The finished product:

The verdict: Had I followed the recipe exactly, this would have been a pretty bland concoction with overcooked meat and very undercooked vegetables. The cooking time required to get the vegetables to the point where they were just right was about 20-25 minutes longer than the recipe suggested. So, because I got a late start on dinner to begin with, and the prep also took longer than the recipe stated,  it was after 9:30 by the time we actually ate dinner. Oh well. The recipe also didn't call for any spices other than salt and pepper, but I threw in some garlic powder and several shakes of an Italian seasoning blend, which gave it good flavor overall.  The good news: the stew was very tasty, and it turns out I LIKE VENISON. This is a relief, given how much of it I'll be eating this year. Travis, for his part, was rendered speechless for a moment or two as he cradled his bowl of stew in two hands, tasted the goodness of meat he'd provided, and considered the wife who'd lovingly prepared it.

And thus begins our year of deer.

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