Healthy Comfort Food: Beef or Venison Stew

Nothing warms me up better during the cold weather like a soup or stew! This veggie-stacked venison stew makes for great comfort food.

It’s been a serious cold-snap out here in southern New England.

It snowed last week, snowed this week, and it was just cold every other day in between. I want to be getting some local spring produce, but it’s too early for that, unfortunately. So here I wait, hoping that I can give you some in-season recipes soon!

I mean, maple syrup is technically “in-season” right now, but it doesn’t make it any less expensive! By the way, if you want to know what New England tastes like, it tastes like pure maple syrup. And lobster rolls.

But I digress.

In these cold and trying winter days, I turn to warm, comfort foods. Mainly, soups and stews. I’m pretty sure that last week I made three different types of soup/stews.

And venison stew was one of them. In fact, if you follow me on Instagram, I posted about it last week!

How does one get venison, anyway?

Well, there are two ways that I can think of.

One, you hunt for the venison yourself. If you’re into hunting, my guess is that your freezer is already full of meat, ready for venison stew!

Two, you know a person that either has it or can get it. This is more of my avenue. The people I get the venison from get it professionally butchered and everything. And when butchered and cooked correctly, venison can be a delicious alternative red meat. Y’know, for the people who don’t eat a whole lot of it.

But what if both options aren’t really options?

Well then, don’t worry! Use beef stew meat instead. No biggie!

The science with moist method cooking

The reason why venison works so well in this stew, however, is because venison is usually a tougher meat that needs a little help. These deer are running around in the woods, doing whatever deer do. They’re not sitting in a big compound-type farm, doing a whole lot of nothing. This is about as “free-range” as it gets!

But because they are moving around so much, their muscles are stronger, making their meat tougher, fibrous, and chewy. But have no fear! This is what moist method cooking is best for! 

Moist cooking methods, such as boiling, stewing, or steaming, use some sort of liquid, such as water, stock, or wine, to cook the food. The liquid helps break down fibers in the tougher cuts of meat, creating a tender piece of meat that is neither tough nor chewy. (You can check my sources here or here.)

This makes moist cooking methods perfect for our venison stew!

Who woulda thunk, huh? And let me tell you, this stew is delicious. After dealing with the cold, there’s nothing like a hearty bowl of stew. Bread bowls are optional, but serving it with some sort of crusty bread really elevates the texture and flavor of the whole dish. Using the bread to wipe the bowl clean is a tasty way to make sure no venison stew is left behind!

Oh, and one last thing. I know that I seem pretty specific on measurements for cuts, but there really isn’t a need to pull out a ruler! Just make sure all of your cuts are even and consistent. If you have all different sizes for your meat and vegetables, you’ll end up with some pieces cooked just right, but other pieces will be mushy or under-cooked. In this venison stew, you don’t want either!

So what are your comfort foods for when it is cold? Do you have a go-to recipe that you want to share? Let me know in the comments down below!

Cheers!

Gem

Beef or Venison Stew

It’s comfort food, but don’t worry. I’ve got your veggies covered! You can sub out venison for beef.

  • 1 lb. venison or beef stew meat, cut to 1”cubes
  • 2 Tbsp. canola or neutral oil
  • 4 cups beef stew or broth
  • 14 peppercorns, crushed
  • 1/2 tsp. garlic powder
  • 1/2 small onion, cut into 1/8” half-rings
  • 4 red potatoes, cut into 3/4"-1” cubes
  • 1 cup carrots, cut to 1/4” rounds
  • 2 stalks celery, cut to 1/4” pieces
  • 3 Tbsp. cornstarch
  • 1/2 cup half and half

Place a medium pot on medium heat. Add oil and allow to warm up.

When oil is ready, add meat and sear the outsides of the meat, about 3-4 minutes.

Add in the rest of the ingredients except for the cornstarch and the half and half to the pot and allow the liquid to come to a boil. Once soup has come to a boil, turn down to low and allow to simmer for 10-20 minutes, or until the vegetables are fork tender and the meat reads 170°F. Stir occasionally.

In a separate small mixing bowl, whisk together the half and half and cornstarch until no lumps are present. Add to the pot slowly, stirring the stew as you add. Allow to simmer until liquid thickens, about 5 minutes. Serve immediately.

  • Preparation time: 15 minutes
  • Cook time: 25 minutes
  • Total time: 40 minutes

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