All photo credits: Dave Barnett
All photo credits: Dave Barnett
I think that all of us around the office — and those of you reading this — can firmly agree that fall is the best time of the year for obvious reasons. The world transforms into a beautiful display of colors, snow teases the high country and haunting bugles echo throughout the canyons. It’s a perfect time of the year. Beyond enjoying all of the outdoor experiences brought on by the fall season, I also really enjoy spending more time in the kitchen. Fall foods are just where it’s at; everything is hearty and warm and it’s the perfect time of the year to do some experimenting with any game meat you may have freshly acquired.
Stews are probably one of the most requested dinners around our house. This is an easy meal that anyone can nail, the flavor is amazing and the ingredients are simple. This is also a great use of less desirable meats or tougher cuts as the long-simmering action of this dish will make every cut fork-tender. What’s more, stews are an accepting dish and can easily be modified with a slew of other ingredients to truly make it your own.
While 2020 has been a total drag, the elk gods have been smiling down on me and multiple tags have been punched. My freezer is jam-packed with the best meat there is; however, this recipe will work perfectly with any other type of red meat.
For this particular recipe, I chose to prepare this dish in a slow cooker, but stove top, oven or even a wood stove are all great options.
To begin with, heat a splash of oil in a medium to large skillet over medium-high heat. While the oil is heating, pat dry all of the stew meat pieces and season with salt and pepper.
Once the oil is shimmering, add individual pieces of meat to the skillet. Heavily sear each piece of meat on all sides and then drop these into the slow cooker. Keep adequate space between the meat pieces while searing to allow a good crust to form. It may be necessary to do the meat in batches.
While the meat is searing, chop the celery stalks, onion and garlic cloves. Once you have finished searing all of the stew pieces, add another splash of oil to the pan if needed and combine the celery and onion. Saute these until the onion begins to turn translucent and the celery is slightly softened. Add the minced garlic cloves and saute for an additional one to two minutes.
Once the garlic is fragrant, add 1/2 cup of all-purpose flour to the vegetables and mix well. Once combined, add the beef broth or red wine to the skillet and bring to a soft simmer. While simmering, scrape the bottom of the pan to dislodge any baked on bits. A whisk may be necessary to knock out any remaining clumps of flour. This base may thicken as it cooks and it may be necessary to add additional liquid.
Once the stew base is well combined and everything is cozy, add the mixture to stew meat in the slow cooker and mix everything. At this point, I will also add more broth or water until my desired consistency is reached. Keep in mind that the liquid consistency can be adjusted throughout the cooking process. At this point, I will also add in the rosemary and bay leaves. I love to tie these together so they can easily be retrieved in a few hours.
Cover and set to low for the next four to five hours.
About an hour and a half to two hours before you would like to eat, chop the carrots and potatoes into bite-sized pieces and add these to the stew. Additionally, you can pre-boil these items and add them in 20 to 30 minutes before serving. Remove the bundled herbs at this point.
Ladle the stew into a big bowl and serve with a large roll. Stews can also be topped with chives, scallions, cream cheese or sour cream.
This is an excellent way to use up some meat that would otherwise end up ground and it’s also incredibly delicious to boot! Additionally, this is an excellent recipe to experiment with various ingredients.
1 to 2 pounds of stew meat (I generally cut mine in 1” cubes.)
2 to 3 celery stalks
1 medium onion (I prefer red onions, but any will work.)
3 to 4 garlic cloves
Yukon gold potatoes
2 to 3 carrots
32 oz beef broth or preferred broth
Red wine (optional)
1/2 cup flour
Salt and pepper
3 to 4 bay leaves
3 to 4 rosemary sprigs
Water as needed