This is one of my favorite stews, because it is perfect for the really cold months and for large gatherings when you have a lot of people to feed. It isn’t your everyday stew, as it has a Middle Eastern flair, with a little dried fruit and a little ginger. It is one of the dishes I make for my annual Christmas party and it is always a huge hit.
One of the best things about this stew is that the ingredients work well with all kinds of meat, so if you don’t have an ample supply of venison, you could also use another red meat—elk for example. You could also mix different kinds of meat, even supplementing with meat from the grocery store if you’d like so that you have an ample amount of fat for flavor. A mixture of venison and lamb, for example, is a winning combination because the lamb keeps the texture moist and balances the lean venison.
Another tip is to make it a day or two in advance and let it sit. The flavors will develop and improve greatly and you will save yourself cooking time the day of. It also freezes well if you portion it out in plastic bags for a rainy day.
This is a delightful stew. Sweet and spicy all at once. Try it for your next holiday gathering served with crusty bread, and a big bowl of couscous.
• 4 pounds venison shoulder, cut into cubes (or the equivalent in other red meat) • 3/4 cup flour • 2 tablespoons vegetable or grape seed oil or butter • 1 teaspoon salt • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon • 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper • 2 medium onions, diced • 4 carrots, peeled and diced • 2 medium turnips, peeled and diced • 3 cloves garlic, roughly chopped • 2/3 cup dried apricots • 2/3 cup prunes, pitted • 3 to 4 cups beef broth
1. Trim any excess fat from the meat. Heat a large pot with oil and flour the cubes in a bowl. Shake them well and place them in the pot, being sure not to crowd. Once seared, remove to a plate or rack.
2. Put all of the browned meat back in the pan and sprinkle with salt, cinnamon, ginger and pepper. Then add the vegetables, garlic and dried fruit.
3. Pour in enough stock to barely cover the meat and bring it to a boil. Lower the heat so the bubbles percolate. Cover and simmer gently for 2 hours until tender. Skim off any excess fat from the surface with a spoon.
4. Serve with couscous (Israeli couscous is my favorite). This is also good made ahead of time and allowed to sit so the flavors develop.