Now that the holiday season comes to a close, its time to be frugal and economize on everything we do, especially eating. Chances are, we’ve been eating well since Thanksgiving all the way through New Year’s Day. So now, when the wallet is empty and there are all those holiday bills about to rain down on us at any moment, we can take all those meats out of the freezer, let them defrost and start making economic meals that can feed a family of 4-5 for less than $1/serving. My friends hunt and fish, so there is always plenty of meat and fish in the freezer to get me through the winter. Venison or beef stew is my favorite, especially now during the cold winter months. This, along with plenty of other peasant meals (mostly stews) are very simple to make, not even patience is required. However, don’t expect for it to be done in 30 minutes. This is something that takes about 20 minutes prep time, then just leave it on the stove simmering for 1.5 to 2 hours.
In a heavy bottom pot or Dutch oven, heat some olive oil, enough to cover the bottom. Once hot, add in your pieces of venison stew meat. Season with salt and pepper and stir every few minutes until all is browned on every side. You can add in garlic now or later, and if you like you can even marinate these cubes in red wine 30 mins prior.
While the meat is browning, cut onion in half and quarter it, removing the outer peel/skin. Set aside, and chop your celery stalks into 1″ thick pieces. Deglaze the meat that has been cooking with the remainder of red wine. Give it a few minutes for the alcohol to cook out and add in the vegetables to the pot along with the garlic, oregano, more salt and pepper.
Allow another 5-10 minutes to cook so the vegetables get softer, the onions translucent and they have steamed a bit. Next add in your bay leaf and cold water, just enough to cover all the contents. Don’t add too much water, especially if you like a thicker broth or gravy.
Bring to a gentle simmer. That means, not a rolling boil, but enough heat until you see small bubbles coming up through the stew. Now you just have to let it simmer on the stove for about 2 hours. You know when its done when the liquid has reduced and/or you take a small piece of meat out and you can cut it with a fork, it should be very tender and fall apart.
Its pretty hard to screw this recipe up, you can even add all the ingredients all at once, however, if you do it according to this recipe, I can all but promise that even those who do not like venison or deer meat won’t be able to tell. No gamey taste, just hot hearty goodness. Serve with good French or Italian bread, some would even add in cubed potatoes (but I wouldn’t serve with both).
Of course, if you don’t have venison, any beef stew meat will work. You don’t want the very best cuts of meat because its the tougher, cheaper cuts that work best when slow cooking something over low heat for 2 hours.
- 2lbs of Venison Stew meat (typically these will be cubed pieces of the neck, back, hind, etc.)
- 1 Large Onion (about the size of a softball, any color/variety will do, I used yellow)
- Small stalk of celery (about 5 ribs, sliced)
- Baby carrots (half bag should be 1/2 lb. and/or 8 ounces)
- 1 Teaspoon of Oregano
- 1 Bay Leaf (I used a fresh one)
- 3 Cloves of Garlic
- 1/2 cup of dry red wine
- Salt & Pepper
- 2 Cups of Fresh Cold Water
Enjoy with fresh French or Italian bread, and if you like wine, use the same wine you cooked with or open a new, similar red wine to enjoy with it!