Tag Archives: venison

Venison Whiskey Stew

18 Jan

Lately, when it comes to dinner, I have faced two problems:
1. I don’t know what I feel like eating.
2. I’ve had a recent string of failed recipes.  The kind of failures that no one wants to eat, including me.

So yesterday, when it occurred to me that what I could really go for was some hearty stew, I was so happy.  Problem #1 solved.  Once that was behind me, I practically crossed my fingers the whole time I made dinner, hoping that Problem #2 wouldn’t show up along the way.

I am happy to report (super, super happy) that this recipe was delicious.  So good, that I was glad to have it again for lunch.  Looked forward to it, even.

From start to finish, this stew is pretty quick to make.  After some prep work, it comes together quickly and finishes in around 15 minutes.  Whiskey, tomato paste, and beef broth form a flavorful base for this thick, chunky stew.  It is very hearty, but still came in at 200 calories per serving.  For me that means I can add a little crusty bread and some fruit to the meal which makes it much more satisfying without too many calories.  I loved the stew, and will definitely make it again.

Regarding the whiskey:
1. I used 2GINGERS Irish Whiskey.  It was delicious, but you could substitute your favorite whiskey (and I know you have one).
2. If you don’t have any whiskey, you could substitute  bourbon, brandy, red wine, or dark beer.  Each one would add a lot of flavor to this stew.
3. If you would like to make it alcohol-free, it would lose some of the flavor that the whiskey brings, but would still make a mighty tasty stew. If you omit the alcohol altogether, add an extra 1/2 c. of beef broth and an extra tablespoon of tomato paste.

Venison Whiskey Stew
Serving size: 1 c.
Serves: 6

1 T. olive oil
1 lb. venison cutlets, cut into 1” pieces
2 c. carrots, diced
1 stalk celery, diced
1/2 c. onion, diced
1 clove garlic, diced
8 oz. button mushrooms, quartered
2 T. flour
1/2 c. whiskey
3 c. beef broth
2 T. tomato paste
1 T. fresh parsley, chopped

In a large deep skillet, heat olive oil over medium high heat.  Add venison and cook until browned, about 5-7 minutes.  Remove venison and set aside.  Add carrots, celery, onion and garlic, and cook for 3 minutes.  Add mushrooms and cook another 2 minutes.  Add flour, stir until well combined and cook for about a minute.  Add whiskey and stir to combine, it should start to thicken and bubble.  Add beef broth and tomato paste, stir well and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat to a simmer, cover, and cook for 15-20 minutes.  Stir in fresh parsley and serve.

Estimated calories:  200 cal/serving

Print it: Venison Whiskey Stew

– If you don’t have any venison, or don’t care for wild game, sirloin would be a great substitution.  For this recipe, subbing an equal amount of sirloin would add about 70 cal/serving
– Don’t like mushrooms?  You must be my brother Ryan!  Whether you are Ryan or someone else, you can leave out the mushrooms but you may want to add something else in its place like diced potato, sweet potato, or red bell pepper would be my top choices.
– This recipe would be a good contender for the crockpot.  However, to build up the base of the soup, it really needs to start out in the pan.  The last 15-20 minutes of cooking could be replaced with 2-4 hours in the crockpot on low.  The advantage here is that you could start the whole thing out earlier in the day, and serve it up when you are ready.

Venison Barley Mushroom Soup

5 Dec

I am highly suggestible when it comes to food.  Last week my friend Nicole mentioned that she was making Beef Barley soup, and just like that, I was trying to figure out how I could get some.  She looks too far away for me to beg for her to bring me a bowl, so my next best option was to make some myself.

One of the things that sets a good barley soup apart from a mediocre one is the silkiness of the broth.  A watery soup base that lacks flavor and texture just makes a disappointing soup.  I’ve found that this happens a lot when I try to lighten up soups.  By taking out much of what makes a soup taste rich and flavorful (namely the fat), the soup becomes boring.  Really, really boring.  I’ve been experimenting with ways to boost the texture of soups without adding a ton of fat, and have found two super star ingredients:  1) bacon (duh), 2) gelatin.

If you’re looking for a vegan or vegetarian soup, this won’t help you at all.  But for the rest of us, these two gems can add a lot texture without a big impact on the overall calories in the soup.  In this soup, I decided to use gelatin since I planned to have a lot going on in the soup already.  The gelatin’s job in this recipe is twofold: thickens up the soup and adds a silky texture.  Sounds weird, but really makes a difference.

Venison Barley Mushroom Soup
Serving size: Approx 1 c.
Serves: About 12

1 c. boiling water
1 packet gelatin
1/3 oz. dried porcini mushrooms
1 lb. venison, cubed
3 T. flour
1 t. Cooper’s spice (or pepper spice blend)
3 T. olive oil, divided
1/2 onion, minced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 c. carrots, diced
8 oz. button mushrooms, quartered
6 c. chicken stock (or beef)
1/2 lb. frozen pearl onions
1 c. pearl barley
Salt and pepper to taste


In a small bowl, mix together boiling water and gelatin until dissolved.  Pour over dried mushrooms and set aside for 30 minutes.  After 30 minutes, remove mushrooms and chop finely, reserving liquid.

In a bowl, mix together venison, flour and pepper spice blend until the meat is well coated.

In a large pot, heat 2 T. oil over medium high heat.  Add venison and cook until lightly browned.  Remove meat and set aside.  Add remaining oil and add onion, garlic and carrots; cook for 2-3 minutes.  Add mushrooms and cook for 1-2 minutes.  Add chopped porcini and venison to the pot and stir.  Add reserved mushroom liquid and bring to a boil.  Scrape up browned bits from the bottom.  Add stock in two or three batches, scraping up all the bits from the bottom and bringing back to a boil between each.  When the bottom is scraped clean and the liquid is boiling, add pearl onions and pearl barley.  Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low and cover.  Cook for 30-45 minutes until barley is tender (should be kind of al dente). Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Estimated calories:  166 cal/serving

Print it: Venison Barley Mushroom Soup

– If you don’t have venison, lean beef would be an excellent substitute in this soup
– You could also make it without meat altogether.  In that case, I’d suggest omitting 1 T. olive oil, and adding the flour/spice mixture to the vegetables after they’ve cooked a bit, but before you start adding the liquid.
– I made this ahead and reheated it, and it thickened up quite a bit.  In some cases, you may want to add a little broth when reheating.

Venison Cutlets with Good Brown Gravy

24 Oct

I’ve been struggling lately to figure out what to make for dinner that everybody will eat and enjoy.  In order to achieve both, it has to fit the following criteria:
1. Healthy
2. Not much meat
3. No visible onions, mushrooms, zucchini
4. The time between we get home and when we eat has to be fairly short
5. Actually tastes good

I don’t think I’m alone here (except maybe for #3).  It is tough to figure out what will work for our family, and also have  a little variety in our diet.  In planning yesterday’s meal, I decided to use the one thing that practically guarantees that my kids will eat it – gravy.  This recipe was pretty simple – a little prep work then slow cooking all day in the crock pot.  This kind of meal is perfect for me because it is easy to get things prepped and ready in the morning, then let the crock pot do the bulk of the work so I can just serve dinner when we’re hungry.

This recipe uses a pretty basic approach to making a brown gravy – pan fry some meat, remove it, add onions and garlic and broth then stir up all the good bits to make some sauce.  I added ketchup and mustard to give it more flavor, and used corn starch to thicken the sauce before adding it to the crock pot.  It was very simple, and met all of my criteria.  Everyone at it, and even asked for more.  Mostly gravy.

Venison Cutlets with Good Brown Gravy

Serves: 5
Serving Size: 3 oz. venison, 1/2 c. gravy

2 T. flour
1 t. Montreal Seasoning
1 lb. venison cutlets, cut into 1 oz. pieces (about 3” x 3”)
3 T. non-dairy butter, divided
1/2 onion, finely diced
1 clove garlic, finely diced
2 T. flour
4 c. beef broth, divided
1/4 c. ketchup
1 T. Worcestershire
1 t. Dijon mustard
2 T. cornstarch

In a small bowl, mix flour and seasoning blend.  Pat cutlets dry with a paper towel, then dredge in flour and set aside.  In a large skillet, melt 2 T. non-dairy butter over medium high heat.  Add cutlets and pan fry until both sides are browned.  Remove from pan and place in crockpot.

Add remaining non-dairy butter to the skillet, add onion and garlic.  Cook for one minute, reduce to medium.  Add flour and cook for 2-3 minutes or until all it is dry and turning darker in color.  Add 1/2 c. beef broth and stir constantly until thickened and bubbly.  Add another 1/2 c. beef broth and stir until thick and bubbly.  Add 2-1/2 c. broth, ketchup, Worcestershire, and mustard, and bring to a boil.  Mix remaining 1/2 c. broth with cornstarch, then add to the gravy.  Cook and stir for about a minute or two until thick.  Pour over cutlets in the crockpot.

Cook on low for 6-8 hours.  Serve cutlets with gravy.

Estimated Calories:  244 cal/serving

Print it: Venison Cutlets and Good Brown Gravy

– Regular butter or margarine can be substituted for the non-dairy used here
– If you don’t have venison, you could substitute any thinly cut meat such as beef or veal
– I served this with spaetzle, but it would be very good with a baked potato, mashed potatoes, or buttered egg noodles
– Sorry if I put the song in your head

German Potato Soup

15 Sep

This year seasonal changes have happened very quickly.  BAM!  It’s summer.  BAM!  Now it’s fall.  These quick shifts have made it very hard for me to adjust to each change.  I don’t know what to wear, I don’t know how to dress my children for the day, and I don’t know what to make for dinner.  My mind is all swimsuits and grill, but my body is sweaters and soup.  It is confusing.

The shift from hot to cold weather makes me crave rich flavorful foods, the kind that cook all day and fill the house with warm smells.  One of my favorite fall dishes to make is Hot German Potato Salad.  Not so much a salad as a hearty side, the flavors hit the spot but it can get kind of heavy.  I decided to make some soup that contained the same kind of flavors found in the dish, but with less of a caloric commitment.  I based the flavors on my very favorite version of this dish which can be found at Ruttger’s Bay Lake Lodge in Minnesota.  It is thick, rich, and full of bacon and vinegar goodness.  With that recipe in mind, I created a soup that is just as hearty and full of flavor, but comes in under 300 calories per serving.

The recipe is easy to make and requires just a bit of prep, then a few hours in a crockpot to cook the potatoes and bring the flavor together.  It makes a batch that is perfect for dinner with enough leftover for lunch the next day.  This soup improves with age, and freezes very well.  I would highly recommend this soup, and will definitely make it again.

German Potato Soup

Serves: 6
Serving Size: 1-1/2 c.

2 lbs potatoes, peeled, quartered and sliced into thick slabs
1 c. carrot, sliced
1/2 c. onion, diced
1 T. olive oil
3/4 lb. venison, cubed
4 slices pepper bacon
1/4 c. sugar
2 T. flour
1/2 t. celery salt
10 turns freshly ground black pepper
4 c. beef stock, divided
1/2 c. cider vinegar
1/4 c. fresh parsley, minced
Place potatoes, carrots, and onion into a crockpot, turn to high.

Add oil to a pan over medium-high heat.  When oil is hot, add venison and cook until browned.  Remove and place in crockpot.  Add bacon to the pan, reduce heat then cook until bacon is crisp.  Remove bacon and set aside on a paper towel. 

In a small bowl, combine the sugar, flour, celery salt and pepper.  Add to the pan and stir for one minute until the flour mixture absorbs everything in the pan.  Add 1/2 c. beef stock and 1/2 c. cider vinegar to the pan and stir until a thick sauce forms.   When it starts to bubble, add the remaining stock and bring to a boil.  Pour stock mixture into the crockpot.

Crumble all of the bacon, add half to the crockpot.  Cook for 4-5 hours on high.

When ready to serve, ladle into bowls and top with bacon crumbles and fresh parsley.

Estimated Calories:  284 cal/serving

Print it: German Potato Soup

– If you don’t have venison, you could substitute beef or leave it out entirely
– I used Yukon Gold potatoes, but baby reds would be a great substitute

Venison Involtini al Carciofi

16 Aug

Sometimes I think back fondly on part of my life, savoring the memory of some fine meal, event, or time spent with those I love.  Then I make the mistake of counting back the years, and my jaw drops so fast it almost hits the table as I realize that the event happened HALF MY LIFE AGO or has a giant number like SEVENTEEN YEARS AGO.  Such is the case with this recipe.  Back in 1994, I spent a semester in Italy where I took classes in Italian, art history, and cooking.  Also, I talked smart, played countless hands of gin, and drank wine on some of the finest/pigeon-poop laden piazzas in Italy.  Here I am, the spring chicken in the middle.

One of the recipes we learned to make is Involtini al Carciofi (that last bit means artichoke, and it is pronounced like car-CHO-fi), which is basically a layered meat and cheese roll with an artichoke tucked into the middle.  The original recipe uses veal, but since I have a freezer filled with venison, I’ve made the substitution. [As always, substitute away!  No venison? Use veal.  Hate veal?  Use beef?  Don’t eat meat?  Skip this one).  I should also note, that I varied from the original recipe in a whole bunch of other ways, but the general concept is still the same.  If you want to make a more traditional version of this same recipe, use prosciutto instead of the ham, fontina instead of the provolone, and tuck a few sage leaves inside and skip the Italian seasoning.  As you can see, pretty much the only thing I left totally alone in this recipe is that I still included the artichoke, which is basically required since it is in the name.  Whether you choose to make this as written, the traditional way, or with your own substitutions, involini are pretty easy to make and very delicous. 

[Side note: Worst photo ever, all dim and shadowy.  Also, involtini may not be the most photogenic.  She looks better in person, and not in a first date kind of way, either.]

Involtini al Carciofi
Serves: 4

3/4 lb. venison tenderloin (backstrap)
1-1/2 oz. thinly sliced deli ham (4 slices)
4 slices provolone
1 artichoke heart, quartered
2 T. whole wheat flour
2 t. Italian seasoning
1 t. kosher salt
10 turns freshly ground black pepper
2 T. olive oil
3/4 c. white wine

Place the venison between two sheets of plastic wrap and place on a hard surface.  Using a cooking mallet or heavy measuring cup, pound until very thin.  Repeat with each cutlet.  Place a single slice of ham on each cutlet, top with provolone, and place artichoke heart in the center.  Starting on one end, roll, tucking the inside contents inside the venison.  Secure with two toothpicks.

In a bowl, mix flour, Italian seasoning, salt and pepper.  Roll each involtini in the flour mixture until it is fully coated.

Over medium-high heat, add oil to a large skillet and heat until oil is very hot (I drop a bread crumb in the oil to test it – when it is ready, it will sizzle around the bread crumb).  Place the involtini in the pan and cook for 3-4 minutes a side or until well browned.  Pour wine into the pan and cover, reduce heat to low then cook for 30-40 minutes.  Turn the involtini occasionally.  The contents of the involtini will ooze out a bit, and eventually will thicken into a sauce.  Before removing from pan, stir the involtini around the pan to coat in a layer of the thick sauce.  Remove toothpicks and serve.

Notes:  You can substitute beef or veal for the venison, and omit the provolone if you’d like to make this dish non-dairy.

Estimated Calories:  373 cal/serving

Print it: Involtini al Carciofi