It’s one of those things that happens in Minnesota if you are of the cookery types and not of the veggie only persuasion, people stop by with bags of meat and or products made from meat that they killed themselves. And we are always grateful.
While this shot makes me feel like I should document this cooking process in a way that would continue on fellow MCAD alum Brian Lesteberg’s hunting series I’d really rather document the life span or mating habits of pie. (Wouldn’t it be awesome if pie did mate? Then you have all these mini pies running around to track and devour! Oh, I’d be one happy girl! “If it’s pie, it dies.”*)
The first thing that must be done with the venison is a simple braising. Braising, if you’re not already aware is cooking a tough piece of meat in some form of liquid over low heat slowly until the collagen and tough bits give up the fight and decide to become tasty. Venison doesn’t really have tough bits, but it’s very low fat, so braising will keep the moisture up for a lovely tender meal. Serve it and it’s juices over crack sma’ters (smashed potatoes with Gorgonzola cheese melted in) or some polenta. It’s yummy, doesn’t take much hands on time and it makes excellent use of the meat left on your doorstep.
2+ lbs venison
2 onions, divided one coarsely chopped, one sliced
2 carrots, peeled and cut into rounds
1 head garlic, roasted and cut in half through the widest part
1 bottle fruity red wine
8 oz brown mushrooms, sliced
salt & pepper
1 recipe crack sma’ters
Preheat oven to 300 °f.
Cut venison into 8 – 12oz chunks. Heat olive oil in braising pan until it’s shimmering. Add in venison chunks and sear on all sides (or as many as possible.) Add in carrots and coarsely chopped onions. Place garlic face down in the pan. Cover and let cook over heat for a couple of minutes. Pour wine in until it comes 1/3 of the way up the meat. Cook for 1 hour.
Remove from oven, stir a bit, add in the rest of the onion and mushrooms, turn meat and replenish wine if necessary. Cover and let cook for another 45 minutes to an hour. Meat is done when it’s very tender. If the gravy isn’t thick enough when you consider the meat done, transfer meat, mushrooms and onion slices to another dish and cover. (Throw away garlic.) Place braising pan on stove and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer until gravy reaches your desired consistency. Add in a table spoon of butter, if you want to add in a little extra richness.
Serve gravy over crack sma’ters topped with venison, mushrooms and onions.
* I’ve lived in this part of the country for quite awhile now and I’m still startled by some aspects of the hunting culture, namely a guy sitting behind us in a cafe during breakfast who kept slamming his fist down on the table and yelling, “If it flies it dies! If it flies it dies!” It is possible he’s not a shining example of the hunting community as perhaps he just wasn’t very bright.