Friday, March 27, 2009

Venison Stew

Students at the school we work at always ask if we're vegetarians or vegans because they never see us eat meat at the school cafeteria. We do indeed eat meat, and many of our best meals in the past few years have involved meat, but we're pretty choicy about the meats we consume. Of course, this choosiness isn't very peasant-like of us since peasants tend to be poor and often don't have the luxury of selecting which meats they will and won't eat. On the other hand, many peasants raise their own meat or procure it from local or regional sources that don't involve the industrialized meat industry. And that's what we try to avoid: the meat pumped full of growth hormones and antibiotics, the meat from animals raised inhumanely, the meat that doesn't really have taste unless you marinate or season the hell out of it, or that ambiguous brownish-grey meat that may be cow or pig or chicken...or wait, it's all three combined in some Frankensteinian meat processing plant. When we eat animal flesh, we prefer to eat meat we trust, meaning we generally know where it comes from, how it was raised (or lived in the wild), and how it was killed. To that end, we tend to stock up on meats when we go to Adele's cousin's biodynamic farm (Nezinscott Farm) in Maine or during hunting season when one of Adele's brothers kills a deer.

These are the St. Pierre brothers (Tony, Tom and Jean) with two of their sons (Matthew and Jason) and a brother-in-law (Ethan) on a typical Saturday morning during hunting season in Maine. The venison that went into the stew we made this week came from the deer that was killed by Tom (far right in the picture) whose wife and daughters don't like the taste of wild meat.

The ingredients are simple: a package of venison stew meat (a pound maybe?), 5 carrots, 1 large onion, 2 potatos, salt, pepper and paprika (lots o'). Please do add lots of garlic... we just didn't have any more on us when we made this (damn it). This made enough stew for four generous portions.

The best-tasting stew is the one that sits over night in its own juices, so we started making this stew last night to eat it tonight.

Heat some olive oil in a large dutch oven, and sautee the onions (and garlic). When the onions are translucent, add the meat, lots of salt and pepper, and about 2 good teaspoons of paprika. Brown the meat, then add just enough water to almost cover, bring to a boil, cover and reduce the heat to simmer for a couple of hours. (We watched this great French movie - Diva - while it cooked). Allow to cool and store in the fridgerator over night.

About 45 minutes before you feel like eating, peel and chop the carrots and potato. Throw them in with the meat and just enough water to cover everything. Bring to a boil, then reduce to simmer, cover and cook for about 30 minutes. The meat will be very tender, but the carrots and potato won't be mushy.

Total prep and cook time : about 4 hours, largely unattended
Total cost : hard to estimate, since we bartered the deer meat

No comments:

Post a Comment