Friday, March 26, 2010

A Year of Deer, Episode 11: Azorean Spiced Venison Stew

For this meal I once again turned to my slow cooker, magnificent appliance that it is, and used another recipe from Stephanie O'Dea of A Year of Slow Cooking and Make it Fast, Cook it Slow.

What initially made this recipe jump out at me as I flipped through my cookbook was Azorean in the name. My dad was stationed in the Azores while serving in the Air Force, so the word stood out to me and reminded me of a conversation he and Travis had a while back about his experiences there. My dad shared that he didn't really sample much of the local cuisine while there...mostly he just ate whatever the military provided. Well, after making this stew, I can tell you he definitely missed out. If this stew is indicative of the flavors and spices found in other Azorean dishes, then they have some very tasty cuisine over there.

The second thing that intrigued me about this recipe was just that--the interesting combination of flavors and spices. Garlic? Cumin? Allspice? Cinnamon? All together with meat and veggies? That I just had to try. And so last night we did, and here's what it looked like:

The Verdict: WOW. First of all, when I popped off the lid to check on the meat after I got home yesterday (after 10 hours of slow cooking on low), all it took was a little nudge for the meat to fall apart. It was SOOOOO tender. Then when I sneaked a taste, I found that the meat was thoroughly infused with the spices. The broth was the kind of spicy that sneaks up on you...packs a punch of flavor, then hits the back of your mouth with an explosion of subtle heat. The broth was a bit too salty, I thought, so next time (oh yes, there will definitely be a next time) I will probably omit the salt up front and only add some after cooking, if necessary. It turned out I didn't have any bay leaves, so I wasn't able to include one. We'll see what kind of a different that makes next time.

When Travis took his first spoonful, he was rendered speechless, reduced to groans of deep satisfaction for the next few minutes. He had polished off his bowl before I was half done with mine. Needless to say, we're very excited about having the leftovers tomorrow.

Tonight, we continue our culinary world tour with a visit to Noon-O-Kabob, a restaurant that serves Persian food.

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