Last week being deer hunting weekend in Wisconsin, I felt it appropriate that my next post be a venison recipe. For many years growing up we always had an overwhelming amount of venison and were always looking for interesting ways to use it. Over the years, I have found great recipes to use for venison, including delectable cabernet cherry reductions and savory grill rubs. For this particular recipe, though, I will be resorting to an old friend: the crock pot.
Crock pots are wonderful, even for the experienced cook, because they create excellent meals with little effort and make your whole house smell amazing. I chose a crock pot recipe for this particular dish because I am making it for my parents, who are dog sitting for us this weekend while we are up north to Lake Superior for my husband’s work holiday party. I am preparing it in the morning the day they are coming so it will be ready when they arrive. After a full day’s work and a drive north to our house, they will enjoy having dinner waiting for them, accompanied by a nice bottle of wine, of course!
This recipe is a twist on the classic French Beef Burgundy. Using venison will change the flavor slightly, because venison has a stronger flavor than beef. I used a combination of round steak and strip steak that I pulled out of the freezer yesterday and let it thaw overnight. In the morning, after a snowy walk with the dogs, I came back to prepare the dish. I cut the venison into chunks and dredged it in a mixture of flour, salt and pepper. To dredge meat, take the piece of meat and roll it around in the flour mixture then shake it out in your hand to remove any excess flour. The meat is then seared quickly on both sides in a skillet of hot oil. Make sure you just sear the meat; don’t cook it through or it will toughen. This step allows the meat to remain in cube form, rather than fall apart, which will happen in a crock pot without this step. After adding the veggies (all local) and spices, it was time to add the wine.
When cooking with wine, I always use a wine I would want to drink with the dish. I do not recommend using a cheap bottle of wine you have never had before, or a wine you know you don’t like. After all, if you don’t like the flavor of it in a wine glass, it’s not going to taste any better in your food. However, for the sake of your wallet, don’t use the expensive wine that you’re saving for a special occasion. Pick a good, consumable red at a good price. For this dish, I love using Blackstone Merlot. Blackstone is a wonderful winery in Sonoma that produces consistently good wine at a great price (less than $10 per bottle). For this recipe, I recommend a California Merlot or a French Burgundy. Cabernet, Zinfandel, Sangiovese, and other such wines will impart to strong a flavor on the dish and it won’t mesh well with the rest of the flavors.
After adding all the ingredients, I set the crock pot on low and went about the rest of my day, while the house filled with delicious smells.
About 6 hours later I reduced the heat to warm to stop the cooking process but still keep the dish warm for when my parents arrive. I’m leaving a bag of organic broad egg noodles for them to eat with the burgundy, but the dish is also excellent over mashed potatoes, which provides an excellent vehicle for sopping up the delicious broth.
Now it’s off to Lake Superior!
Makes 6 servings
¼ c flour
½ tsp salt
½ tsp freshly ground black pepper
2 lbs venison steak, rinsed and cut into 1-inch chunks
2 tbsp olive oil
1 medium onion, sliced
2 carrots, chopped
8 mushrooms (button, crimini, or portobella), sliced
½ cup fresh parsley, minced
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 bay leaves
1 c burgundy wine (or merlot)
½ c beef broth
Combine the flour, salt and black pepper. Dredge the venison cubes in the flour mixture, and brown in the olive oil in a medium skillet. Place the venison and remaining ingredients in the slow cooker and mix thoroughly to combine. Cover; cook on low for 4-6 hours (or high for 2-3 hours). Serve with broad egg noodles or garlic mashed potatoes.