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Recipe: Venison-Barley-Mushroom Casserole

Recipe: Venison-Barley-Mushroom Casserole

Venison, barley and mushrooms all provide earthy and robust flavor, so why not put them together? A barley casserole was likely the result of an old-world stew, where grains were a common carbohydrate, as not everyone had potatoes. Perhaps the pot cooked dry on occasion and gave birth to the term casserole.

Deer, antelope, elk or moose all work well with this recipe, and it can even be used with waterfowl legs and breasts. It is easy to change up the flavors with different meat, and round roasts cut into cubes is always an excellent choice, as the pieces stew down and tenderize as the liquid in the pot simmers.

There are a host of different mushrooms available nowadays, so don’t just grab the white button ones. Baby bella, portabella, shiitake and cremini mushrooms are common in most grocery stores and can add or change flavor and texture. Foraging for wild mushrooms is even better, and if you can locate some chanterelles, morels, pine, beech mushrooms or other local favorites, it will make this dish even better. Fresh or dried can be used, but remember to rehydrate any stored mushrooms before use, as they will use extra liquid out of the recipe.

This recipe is versatile, as you can add extra stock to make it a traditional stew. The casserole keeps well in the fridge for a week, and it freezes well too if you’re looking for something to take to hunting camp. It is a simple recipe, as it was originally created. Not a lot of extra spice or ingredients that you wouldn’t find in your cupboard. Marjoram and wild oregano were often foraged and used to add flavor. Until the world spice trade trickled to everyone in remote places, there were few options.

• 1½-2 lbs venison round, cubed
• 3 tbsp olive oil or butter
• 1 large onion, sliced (approx. 3 cups)
• 1 lb mushrooms, sliced (approx. 16 medium-sized)
• 4 cups beef stock
• 2 tsp marjoram
• 1 cup pearl barley
• 2 cups sliced carrots
• 2 tbsp fresh dill, chopped
• Salt and black pepper to taste

1. Heat the oil or butter in a large Camp Chef Dutch oven over medium-high heat and brown the venison cubes. Salt them as they cook. Remove the meat from the pan once the pieces brown, and set aside.

2. Add the onion and mushrooms to the meat drippings and oil and turn the heat to high. Stir to combine. Sauté until the onion begins to brown, about 6-8 minutes. Return the browned venison to the pot, then pour stock over contents and add the marjoram.

3. Add the barley and carrots and stir well. Bake at 350°F for 45 minutes. If you overcook pearl barley, it will get mushy. Add salt to taste.

4. Serve garnished with dill, salt, and black pepper.

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