May 8, 2015

Venison Vegetable Stew on a COLD day

It's a cold rainy day here 1,200 feet above sea level on the Hawaiian island of Moloka'i, and a good day for "Barking Deer Vegetable Stew". Several islands in Hawaii, including Moloka'i, are known for their Axis deer. They are called "barking deer" because they make a high-pitched barking noise when calling each other, especially around 2 am when I'm asleep and my dog Maka starts barking back at them. The Axis deer are plentiful here on Moloka'i, and delicious to eat. Venison is very healthy, low in cholesterol and fat, but packed with quality protein.
Barking Deer Vegetable Stew
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To me, the best part of the deer is the tenderloin, which is usually barbecued, charred on the outside and left rare inside. The tougher shoulder, and hind quarters are usually ground up into sausage meat or hamburger meat, thinly cut into a stew meat, or dried for jerky. 

Sometimes it's a challenge to think of recipes to go with the tougher cuts, which are commonly cooked in a slow cooker with lots of liquid. Most hunters here have been eating Axis deer all of their lives. They usually have a freezer full of venison to help feed their families. This recipe is a simple, and a delicious way to enjoy a tougher cut of venison, especially when it's a cold and rainy day on the side of a mountain here in Hawaii.


Barking Deer Vegetable Stew
For those tougher cuts of venison like in this stew, forget about "tenderizing marinades"; there is no magic formula that will convert tough venison into tender venison. If the venison is a little tough, pounding with a tenderizing hammer and the liberal use of Adolph's Meat tenderizer may help. I have also heard that if you soak the tough cuts of venison in a mixture of 1/2 cup vinegar and water for 2 hours, then rinse the meat and cover it with milk, soaking for another 2 hours, or overnight, refrigerated, will help, but I haven't tried that... let me know if it works. It is also said that if the venison is really tough, maybe you shot the wrong deer.

Ingredients:
1 1/2 pounds venison (from the shoulder or hind quarter), very thinly sliced because this is very tough meat, you can also use ground venison if you like
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 large onion, diced
1 can (14-1/2 ounces each) stewed tomatoes, undrained
1 can (14-1/2 ounce) tomato sauce
1 cup red wine (I use Franzia burgundy as my house wine)
1 cup hot water
4 garlic cloves, minced
2 carrots, finely diced
1 stalk of celery, finely sliced
2 large potatoes, peeled and cubed
1/2 cup fresh or frozen corn
2 cups beef stock, or 2 teaspoons beef bouillon
2 bay leaves
1 teaspoon dried Italian seasoning
2 tablespoons fresh ginger, minced
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon oyster sauce
1 tablespoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 teaspoon Sriracha sauce, or to taste (optional)

Procedure:
In a Dutch oven or large pot, brown venison cubes in olive oil with the onion and garlic. Now add the remaining ingredients; cover partially and simmer for 1 hour longer or until meat is tender (stir the stew about every 15 minutes. I always find that this stew tastes better the next day when all of the flavors have melded. Serve with crusty bread and a dark beer like Sierra Nevada Torpedo extra IPA, both from Moloka'i Wines and Spirits. Makes about 8 servings. 

Note: You can add whatever vegetables you like, or have on hand, like zucchini, frozen peas, soy beans, even fresh basil, spinach, cabbage, or bok choy. This stew is great served at potluck dinners, over cooked elbow or penne pasta, plus it stretches a meal for large families.


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