Italian Venison Stew with Polenta is a typical recipe from the Friuli region in Northern Italy. The venison first marinates in a wine-based marinade. Then, the next day, the meat gently roasts with porcini mushrooms and a small amount of bacon fat to keep the deer meat moist. May substitute beef for the deer meat.
Italian Venison Stew First Prepare the Meat
Where has summer gone? Here it’s August and we’re making cooler weather food like a deer stew. I’m not through with warm weather. Did your neck of the woods get a lot of rain? We did at the beginning of the summer and now — nothing. Unfortunately, this year our tomatoes are a huge disappointment. How are yours?
Now, the directions for venison stew. It’s important to trim away all of the deer fat and the “silverskin” which is a thin membrane. Peeling it off will improve the flavor of the meat and make it more tender.
The next step in making the Italian venison stew is to make a marinade. The marinade helps to add flavor plus tenderize the meat. The best way to marinate the venison is in a large Ziplock bag or glass dish and place in the refrigerator overnight.
There are several popular marinades for venison. We wanted to use a traditional Italian red wine marinade. Capriolo alla Montanara con Polenta is a recipe popular in the Fruili region of Italy.
Many cuisines use wine as a tenderizer, especially with wild game. Julia Child’s recipes are rich in the use of wine.
Italian Venison Stew — slow cooking by braising
Slow cooking is the ideal method for preparing venison stew. Braising, searing the meat before simmering, gives the meat ample time to tenderize. The red wine not only gives a delicious flavor to the meat, but it also continues to tenderize the meat.
When you’re ready to make the deer stew, drain the meat and save the red wine marinade. In a heavy-bottomed pan, like a Dutch oven, heat some olive oil with a little bacon on medium-high and brown the stew meat on all sides. You may have to do this in batches.
After browning the meat, remove it from the pan. We add butter to the pan and add the onions, carrots, and fennel. Instead of potatoes, we decided sliced fennel was a nice touch. The light anise taste is delicious!
We let the vegetables cook for a bit. Next, we put in the reconstituted dried porcini mushrooms and garlic. When the vegetables start to brown we deglaze the pan by adding the red wine, the porcini liquid, and the broth.
Italian Venison Stew — Cover and Simmer
The liquid bubbles up and then calm down. We stir to make sure all the yummy bits are scraped up from the bottom. Now we season the liquid with salt, pepper, red pepper flakes, and the Italian seasonings.
The meat goes back into to pot and we turn up the temperature. We stir to make sure the liquid touches all the chunks of meat. Once the liquid reaches a boil, we reduce the heat to low and cover the pot, stirring occasionally.
It needs to cook for at least two hours, it could take even more. The longer and slower the stew cooks, the more tender and tasty the Italian venison stew will be. Thicken the stew with a cold broth/flour slurry.
Taste the meat to see if you need any more salt or pepper.
We served our venison stew over polenta a typical way around my region. Let us know if you have any questions about venison and how to prepare it.
Tutti a tavola è pronto
Un caro saluto e alla prossima.
Italian Venison Stew with Polenta – Capriolo alla Montanara con Polenta
- 3 pound venison roast trimmed of all fat and the silverskin in the meat. Cut into 1 1/2 inch chunks.
- 2 cups full-bodied red wine -- like a Cabernet
- 3 cloves garlic minced
- 2 teaspoons pepper
- 3 oz. pork bacon or pork jowl diced
- 2 onions cut in thick half-moon slices
- 2 carrots scrubbed and cut in 1 1/2" chunks
- 1 Large Fennel bulb cut in thick half-moon slices
- 4 Tablespoons minced garlic
- 1/2 cup dried porcini mushrooms 14grams reconstituted in 1 cup warm beef broth.
- 1 cup low-sodium beef broth
- 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
- 2 Tablespoons dried Italian seasoning
- 2 Tablespoons Extra-Virgin Olive Oil
- 2 Tablespoons unsalted butter
- Salt and Pepper
- Flat-leaf Parsley
- Trim and cut the venison roast into the 1 1/2 in chunks. Put the meat in a gallon zip-lock bag. In a large measuring cup make the marinade by mixing the 2 cups red wine, minced garlic, and pepper together. Pour over the meat and seal the bag. Put the bag in a bowl, in case it leaks, and refrigerate at least 24 hours.
- Drain the meat and keep the marinade. In a heavy cast iron pot, heat 2 Tablespoons of olive oil and bacon drippings over high heat. Add the venison and sear on all sides until the chunks start to brown. You may have to do this in batches. Don't overcrowd the meat or it won't brown. Remove the meat and set aside.
- Add the 2 Tablespoons butter to the pot and reduce the heat. Add onions, carrots, fennel, red pepper flakes, salt, pepper to the butter. Mix together and cook for 10 to 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the garlic and porcini mushrooms, cook 1 minute more.
- Deglaze the pan by adding the rest of the red wine, broth, porcini broth. Stir the bottom of the pot to make sure you get all of the yummy bits stuck to the bottom. Add the Italian seasoning.
- Return the meat to the pot and turn up the temperature until the liquid reaches a boil. Stir. Reduce the heat to low and cover the pot. Stir periodically.
- Cook for at least 2 hours and even longer. Longer cooking and lower temperatures will guarantee a tender and flavorful venison stew.
- When finished sprinkle with chopped flat-leaf parsley and serve over polenta.
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