Last weekend was a cold and stormy one in the North Country. Time to experiment with comfort food that could easily be converted to camp cooking when the weather changes to make it even close to tolerable to get outside to the fire pit. I remembered seeing a recipe for a Guiness Stout Venison stew in the new “The Sporting Chef’s Better Venison Cookbook” by Scott Leysath, so I dug out my copy to dig in a little more deeply to see if this recipe could make the leap from indoor oven to outdoor Dutch oven when the time gets right.
Yep —piece of cake. So I pulled some venison stew meat out of the freezer and set it to thawing, then made sure I had all the other ingredients including the stout. Everything else in the recipe is basic to every larder, so no problems there either. Though it takes some time for this to cook long enough for the meat to get fork tender and the flavors to meld, the results are terrific! The stew was delicious and the meat tender the first night, and the leftovers were even better reheated the second night. (Since it was just the two of us, I halved the recipe and there was no problem cooking it in the smaller portion either.)
My better half is in no way a beer drinker and even more definitely not a stout drinker, but she loved this stew. The recipe went right into her “keeper” file.
Every recipe we’ve tried from Scott’s new cookbook has been fantastic—just as expected. It’s definitely worth adding to your library if you cook venison at all, and a must have if you cook venison a lot! These recipes do venison the right way and with great variety!
Everything from here on out is Scott’s recipe from The Sporting Chef’s Better Venison Cookbook:
Guiness Oven Stew
“I’m not a fan of drinking heavy, dark-colored beers, but the flavor a bold stout adds to a venison stew is incredible. As the beer reduces, it infuses the meat and broth with it hoppy, bittersweet flavor. Thi can be prepared in the oven or in a Dutch oven on the stovetop or campfire.”
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 2 tablespoons flour
- 4 pounds (8 cups) of venison stew meat, cut into 2-inch chunks
- salt and pepper
- 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 2 onions, roughly chopped
- 4 garlic cloves, minced
- 4 cups beef, venison or game stock
- 1 bottle of Guiness Extra Stout (or other dark stout)
- 1 tablespoon light brown sugar
- 1 teaspoon dried thyme
- 1 teaspoon dried rosemary leaves
- 1 ounce of bittersweet chocolate, chopped
- 2 bay leaves
- 5 carrots, peeled and roughly chopped
- 1 ½ pounds small read potatoes (creamers), cut in half
- In a small skillet over medium heat, melt butter. Whisk flour into melted butter, and continue to cook while whisking constantly until mixture is light brown. Remove from heat, and allow to cool completely. This is a roux that will be used to thicken the stew much later.
- Preheat oven to 350°. Season stew meat liberally with salt and pepper. Heat 2 tablespoons of the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add meat. As meat is browned, transfer to a large, oven-safe pot.
- Add remaining 1 tablespoon of oil, onions, and garlic to skillet and cook until onions are lightly browned, about 5 minutes. Transfer to large pot with the browned meat.
- To pot, add the stock, beer, brown sugar, thyme, rosemary, chocolate, and bay leaves. Bring to boil. Cover with tight fitting lid or foil, and place in preheated oven for 1 ½ hours. Add carrots and potatoes, and cook for another 30 minutes. Stew is done when meat is tender. If it doesn’t break apart with moderate pressure, keep cooking.
- Remove pot from oven, and place over on stovetop over medium heat. Whisk in reserved butter and flour mixture until liquid is thickened. If more liquid is needed for stew, add additional beer and/or stock before whisking in butter and flour mixture. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Scott Leysath is host of several hunting and cooking shows on Sportsman Channel. You can buy “The Sporting Chef’s Better Venison Cookbook” in softback or as an e-book at Amazon.