Venison Ragout

Fresh herbs can be substituted for dried, be creative, be spontaneous.
Like Julia Child says, “What can happen?”

4 lbs. lean venison stew meat cut into 2” squares
1 1/2 cups coarsely chopped onion
1 cup coarsely chopped celery,
1/2 cup chopped carrots
1/2 cup chopped leeks
5 cloves garlic peeled and crushed
salt and pepper to taste
5 Tbls. red wine vinegar
1 tsp. dried thyme
3 bay leafs
4 whole cloves
4 whole allspice
6 whole juniper berries
1/2 tsp. dried rosemary
1 Tbls. sage
1 tsp. dried marjoram
1 tsp. dried basil
4 cups dried red wine
6 sprigs fresh parsley
3 teaspoons corn, peanut or vegetable oil
1 Tbls. finely chopped shallots
4 Tbls. flour
1 cup imported tomatoes
1/4 cup currant jelly
2 Tbls. Cognac
1 Tblsp. butter
1 lb. fresh mushrooms, chopped
1/4 cup heavy cream

Put the venison in a glass, stainless steel, or earthenware casserole. Add the onion, celery, carrots, leeks, garlic, salt, pepper, flour, 4 Tbls.. of the wine vinegar, thyme, bay leaves, cloves, allspice, juniper berries, rosemary, sage, marjoram, basil, wine
and parsley. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate.

Let the mixture stand for two or three days. Stir it once each day.

Drain the venison in a colander. Reserve the marinating liquid. Separate pieces
of meat from the vegetables.

Place two utensils on the stove, a skillet and a large casserole, or Dutch oven.
The skillet is for browning the meat, the casserole to receive it after it is browned.
Heat two tablespoons of the oil in the skillet and add a layer of meat without crowding it. If it’s crowded, it won’t brown properly. Cook the the venison so that it browns evenly, about two minutes. Transfer the browned pieces to the casserole or Dutch oven. Add another bit of oil to the skillet and when it is hot, add another layer of meat. Continue adding a little oil and meat until until all the pieces are browned and in the casserole.

Cook the meat in the casserole, stirring for about five minutes.
Meanwhile add the reserved vegetables to the skillet. Cook, stirring, until the liquid surrounding the vegetables evaporates.

Transfer the vegetables to the casserole containing the meat.

Add the shallots. Sprinkle the vegetables and meat with the flour, and stir to distribute it evenly. Add the reserved marinating liquid stirring constantly. Add
the tomatoes, salt and pepper to taste and cover. Cook until the cubes of meat are quite tender. Cooking time will depend on the quality of the venison, one to two hours.Transfer the cubes of venison to another casserole. Line a bowl (the sort
found in French kitchens ‘chinos’ is best) – or a piece of cheesecloth as a filter -
and pour the sauce into it. Press the solids with a wooden spoon or ladle to extract
as much liquid as possible. Discard the solids.

Put the currant jelly in a large saucepan and add the remaining tablespoon of
vinegar and 1/2 cup of the sauce. Simmer, stirring until the jelly melts. Add the remaining sauce and venison cubes. Add the cognac and bring to a boil.

Heat the butter in a skillet and add the mushrooms. Cook, stirring until they give
up their liquid. Continue cooking until the liquid evaporates and the mushrooms are slightly browned. Add the mushrooms to the stew. Add the heavy cream and bring
to a boil. Serves 8.

Bon Appétit!

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Slow Food / Recipe

Elizabeth Norcross / Muddy Water Food Writer