adventures in game cooking: elk stew

If you would have asked me 5 years ago if I ever saw my self scouring the internet for recipes for game meat I would have scrunched up my nose and said absolutely not. I knew I always wanted to ‘live off the land’ as far as eating went but I always pictured it looking more like raising our own cows or chickens and having a giant vegetable garden. I wasn’t really thinking along the hunter-gatherer lines. Well, things change and I married into hunting. Duck, deer, elk, pheasant, turkey, basically if it moves and you can buy a tag for it, my husband wants to hunt it and so do most of his family and friends. I’m not against the hunting as long as we actually eat what comes home, which means I am always keeping an eye out for recipes or asking other wives of hunters how they prepare the find of the day.

A friend gave us some elk shoulder not too long ago and I have had absolutely no idea what to do with it, until I came across this post from one of my new favorite food blogs. I decided swap out the beef for elk and pair it with biscuits from an old favorite food blog. The result was absolutely DE-LICI-OUS. I was very pleasantly surprised, the meat was so melt-in-your-mouth amazing! So heres one for all you fellow wives of hunter-gatherers! Enjoy!

Balsamic Elk Stew
recipe slightly modified from Baked Bree

Ingredients

2 lbs. elk shoulder, cut into bite-size pieces
3 Tablespoons flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon pepper
2 Tablespoons vegetable oil
1 red onion, diced
3 cloves of garlic minced
2 bay leaves
1 sprig fresh rosemary
4 sprigs fresh thyme
1 cup red wine
2 cups beef broth
5 carrots, peeled and cut into 1-inch chunks
1 1/2 cups potatoes cut into 1-inch chunks (I used yukon gold but fingerlings or red potatoes would also work)
2 Tablespoons cornstarch
3 Tablespoons water
3 Tablespoons balsamic vinegar
flat leaf parsley, chopped for garnish

Directions
Place elk in a large ziploc bag with flour, salt, and pepper and shake until coated. Heat oil in a large pot over medium-high heat. Add elk and cook until browned on all sides. Once browned transfer to a plate and set aside. Add onions to the pot and cook for 5 minutes, or until soft add garlic and cook until just fragrant being careful not to burn. Pour in red wine and beef stock and add bay leaves, rosemary, and thyme. (I tied mine up in a little cheesecloth pouch to make removing later easy) Place the browned elk back into the pot, bring to a simmer and reduce heat to low. Cover and cook for 1 1/2 to 2 hours, or until elk is fork tender. Add the carrots and potatoes bring to a light simmer and cook covered for another 30 minutes or until tender. In a small bowl, mix together cornstarch and water. Add cornstarch mixture and balsamic vinegar to stew. Remove and discard herbs. Serve stew hot with cheddar chive biscuits.

Cheddar Chive Biscuits
recipe slightly modified from Smitten Kitchen

Ingredients

3 cups all purpose flour
2 teaspoon sugar
4 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 cup chilled butter, cut into 1/4-inch pieces
1/4 cup minced fresh chives
3/4 shredded cheddar
1 cup buttermilk

Directions

Preheat oven to 425°F. In a large bowl mix flour, sugar, baking powder, salt and baking soda. Cut in 3/4 cup chilled butter until mixture resembles coarse meal. Stir in chives and cheese. Add buttermilk and stir until evenly moistened. *I added about 1 1/2 tablespoons of heavy cream because my mixture wasn’t holding together and I ran out of buttermilk. Drop biscuits onto baking sheet, spacing 2 inches apart. Bake until biscuits are golden brown on top, about 15 minutes. Serve fresh out of the oven.

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