Irish Venison Stew with a Texan Twist!
March 2, 2022
Entering the month of March means Texas evenings still have a bit of a chill. So, it’s not too late to cook up a hearty, Irish meat stew that warms you up from the inside out. A piping hot stew served with fresh parsley and crusty, homemade bread slathered with high-quality (real!) butter is a recipe for happiness. Picture a rustic wood-burning stove and a glass of local red wine or craft beer in hand, and you have an image of heaven right there.
Sourcing the best local ingredients
It should go without saying that venison that’s been freshly shot or butchered is best. Unfortunately, deer season ended back in January, meaning locally produced venison is not always available fresh this time of year in Texas. By all means, beef or any other kind of red meat can be used for this recipe, if venison is not available. However, if you’re reading this article, I assume it’s venison stew that’s playing on your mind!
It’s near impossible to make Irish stew with anything other than a good old dry stout. Stout is an (almost) black beer made from coffee-like roasted barley and malt. And for this stew, you can’t go wrong by using the most famous of Irish stouts – Guinness.
Nevertheless, I’d be a pariah in Texas if I didn’t mention the vast array of breweries across the state serving up delicious craft ales. Not only do they go well in this stew, but you can sip on a bottle or two while waiting for your dish to cook!
Veg & potatoes
All the vegetables in this hearty stew are available this time of year, so there’s nothing stopping you from heading to a farmers’ market or local farm to pick up some fresh produce.
A Cajun trinity
Onions, carrots, and celery all grow brilliantly in Ireland, and are typically used as a base (also known as a mirepoix) in European cooking. However, since we’re in the Deep South, we’re going to hit this recipe with a Cajun twist and replace the celery with green bell peppers.
Using starchy potatoes in a stew is a nightmare, as they just end up turning into globs of mashed potatoes. To avoid this puree-based nightmare, make sure to get your hands on waxy baby potatoes. It’s best to use ones that are small enough to be seared straight away and added to the stew. If you only have big spuds to hand, then quarter and sear them in advance.
How to Make Irish Venison Stew
Searing the meat & sauteing the vegetables
When making a stew, the first thing you need to do is prep all the ingredients. This means dicing and searing the meat and sauteing your vegetables.
Meat used in a stew needs to be seared to seal in all the juices and also to add some extra flavor. Season the meat generously with salt and coarsely cracked pepper, coat evenly in plain flour, and sear in some olive oil in a really hot pan (cast iron works best). The flour helps give some color to the stew and thickens it to an almost liquid gold consistency.
Next, place a saute pan over high heat and let it get nice and hot. Add olive oil to the hot pan and toss in your vegetables. Big chunks of vegetables are important as anything else will disintegrate when braised for a long time.
It’s important that you saute the veg and don’t sweat it down, as the color obtained by sauteing is going to impart a lot of flavor. To do this, make sure your pan is really hot and not overcrowded.
The last thing we need to sear is the potatoes, and trust me it’s a step you don’t want to skip. Searing the potatoes adds an entirely necessary dimension to your stew, bringing in delicious texture and flavor.
Braising the venison
After everything has been chopped and seared, it’s time for the easy part. Toss all the meat and vegetables into a large hot pot or crockpot, add the stout beer, stock, tomato paste, and Worcester sauce.
Stir in some bay leaves and fresh herbs, and season to taste with salt and pepper. Place the pot on the lowest possible heat setting, and leave it to simmer for two hours. If you’re cooking your stew on the stove, it is wise to stir every once in a while.
Serving & storing
You’ll know the stew is ready when the venison meat can be easily pulled apart. The vegetables should be really tender but not mushy. Remove the bay leaves and any thyme or parsley stems. Serve hot with a sprinkling of chopped parsley and crusty bread.
To freeze the stew for later, transfer it to several smaller containers or ziploc bags and place in the freezer. The smaller containers help cool the stew down quicker, meaning it spends less time in the food temperature danger zone.