I think this is probably the second time I try game and I’m not talking about World of Warcraft. First time it was, what it seems to be like 1000 years ago, a great experience actually. I found some deer sausages (or whatever they put inside) and they were amazing, just fried, nothing fancy, accompanied by my other favorite dish, eggs sunny-side-up. This time, I figured I should repeat the experience but maybe buying some pieces that I could throw on the grill.
Few weeks back, wife had a work thing in Canmore and I decided to join her. It was a beautiful day, which rarely happens here, and I planned to get some reading done while enjoying the sun somewhere outside, away from all the blogging and whatnot. It definitely worked and three hours later she was done and we went to a local farmers market to check it out for props and things. We didn’t find anything but there was a dude selling game meat and we decided to give it a shot and bought some bison and elk tenderloin. Enough said, it was freakin’ expensive but I am usually willing to try new things beside the fact that I was sure I could turn the whole experience into an interesting post for my blog.
My first impulse was to get the BBQ going but unfortunately, I must confess, I suck when it comes to grilling. I usually grill too much or too little, if I don’t burn it out completely, but heck, you cannot be perfect in everything you do. Anyway, to make a long story short, do you know those gummy bear candies for kids? This is how my steaks turned out to be, very gamy and a little bit on the chewy side (like eating shoe sole). Wife was laughing her ass off but not everything was totally lost, my dog was enjoying the meat to the max, at some point I thought she’s gonna run around the house like chasing a deer. Fortunately I did not waste the whole quantity of steaks on the dog that day, I saved some trying to figure out what to do next, to get some value out of my purchase, so to speak.
Decision to make a stew was easy, nothing more safer than that, right. Well, not really but I am a pro when it comes to this kind of dishes so the result was as expected… AMAZING! Now, there is an ingredient in my recipe that you might not find in your local grocery store (I didn’t) but there might be some local specialty stores in your area or you can try online (I have a link in my recipe). Juniper berries is a spice used most of the time when cooking game though in European cuisine is used in other concoctions as well. For example, gin is flavored with juniper berries, did you know that, because I had no idea. Anyway, if you get past the time you need to let the meat marinade, then making the stew is pretty easy, similar with other recipes but the taste and flavor is definitely something that I have not encountered before. In the end I personally thought it was an experience worth sharing so… enjoy!
- 1.4 lb (650g) elk tenderloin, cut in cubes
- 2 medium size onions, chopped
- 2 small red peppers, chopped in small cubes
- 8-10 oz (200-300g) mushrooms, sliced
- 5 garlic cloves, minced
- 4 medium size tomatoes, peeled and chopped in cubes
- 14 oz (400ml) red wine
- 2 cups vegetable broth, make sure you fully cover the meat inside the pan
- 2 tbsp butter
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 1 tbsp sugar
- 8-10 Juniper berries
- 2 bay leaves
- 2 tbsp paprika
- couple of sprigs of thyme and 1 tsp dry
- 2 tsp dry oregano
- Grind the juniper berries using a mortar and pestle.
- Cut elk meat into one inch size cubes and place it in a bowl. Add crushed juniper, 1 tsp ground pepper, 1 tsp thyme and red wine. Mix so that meat is fully covered by wine (feel free to add some more if you need to), cover with plastic wrap and store in the fridge for at least 6 hours.
- In a medium size pan, add 1 tbsp olive oil and caramelize onion until golden then add garlic and red pepper. Add 2 tbsp of butter along with the drained meat cut in cubes (save the marinade); season with coarse salt and some pepper. Cover with lid and cook until all the water from meat is gone, probably around 15-20 minutes.
- Add crushed/chopped tomatoes, lots of oregano, a couple of sprigs of thyme, bay leaves, one tbsp sugar and paprika. Pour the saved marinade, couple of cups of vegetable broth and some more wine if you want, just make sure meat is well covered but you don't want to have too much liquid because you are not making a soup. I guess it all depends of the pan you are using. Stew needs to cook around another hour at least on medium heat; make sure you taste it to add salt and pepper according to your taste and also to see if the meat is cooked properly.
- About 30 minutes before you think the stew might be done, slice the mushrooms and fry them for a few minutes in a pan with 1 tbsp of olive oil then add them to your stew. You can also prepare some sort of side dish the way I did it, fries or roasted potatoes is better, so you have them ready by the time stew is done.