a balanced plate with room for dessert

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Hearty Venison Stew

It’s that time of year again. Gun deer hunting season started on Saturday morning here in Wisco and the hunters are out in full force. I’m not sure what hunting seasons are like in other states and Google didn’t lead me to any easy way to figure that out.

This is the first year that Mike didn’t go out. I was happy to have him around for the first time since we started seeing each other 8 deer hunting seasons ago (ha), but I will sure miss the delicious venison. Luckily, we have some really generous hunters in our lives. A family friend got a deer during bow season and gave it to Mike’s dad, Jim. Jim butchered the doe and gave us a ton of meat!!!

The start of gun season seemed an appropriate time to cook up some of the meat. The cold, windy weather was definitely screaming “stew”, too! If you can’t get your hands on vension, feel free to use some beef instead. If you have access to venison and don’t think you’ll like it, give this stew a try anyway. You’ll love it, I promise.

Hearty Venison Stew |

Hearty Venison Stew
serves 6

2 pounds venison stew meat (or beef stew meat)
1 teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup flour
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 medium onions, chopped
4 large carrots, chopped
3 stalks celery, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 cup red wine
4 cups low sodium beef broth
2 – 15 ounce cans diced tomatoes
1 teaspoon dried basil
1 teaspooon dried thyme
2 bay leaves

mashed potatoes or crusty bread, for serving

  1. In a large bowl, mix together paprika, garlic powder, onion powder, thyme, oregano, pepper, and salt. Add in venison and toss until coated. Add in 1/4 cup flour and toss until evenly coated.
  2. Heat olive oil in a dutch oven over  medium-high heat. Working in batches, brown the meat on all sides. Move browned meat to a plate and set aside.
  3. Add more oil if necessary, and add in onions. Cook for 2 minutes and then add in celery, carrots, and garlic. Saute for 2 minutes.
  4. Add in red wine and deglaze the pan. Stir in beef broth, tomatoes, basil, thyme, bay leaves, and browned meat. Bring stew to a boil and then reduce heat to a simmer. Allow to simmer for 45 minutes or until meat is tender.
  5. Remove stew from heat and served with mashed potatoes or bread, if desired.

recipe adapted from Emeril Lagasse

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African Chicken Peanut Stew

This delicious stew was accompanied by one of my biggest cooking fails. Ever.

I’ve had this recipe on my “to-cook” list forever. I was inspired by a local restaurant, Buraka. They have to-die-for peanut stew and they serve it with really, really great injera. For those of you who haven’t had injera, it’s an Ethiopian flatbread that has a spongy texture and a bit of a tang. Like a cross between a pancake, crepe and… sourdough bread? I’m not sure how to explain it, but it’s awesome.

Sadly, Buraka was forced to close at the end of October. The building it was in is being torn down and turned into another residential building. Sigh. To make it worse, two more of my fave Madison restaurants were also displaced because of this – Husnu’s and Kabul. This closing meant the end of any peanut stew and injera deliciousness. So, I set off to recreate it. I was partly successful. The stew was pretty good. The injera? A total fail. As in – the smell and taste of it made me want to curl up into a ball and die. I obviously won’t be sharing the injera recipe with you today (or ever – I don’t think I’ll attempt it again), but I do have the chicken peanut stew for you.

African Peanut Stew |

African Chicken Peanut Stew

2 tablespoons canola oil
2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs
1 tablespoon kosher salt
1 large onion, chopped
3-inch piece of ginger, peeled and minced
8 garlic cloves, minced
3 pounds sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 2-inch pieces
1 – 15 ounce can crushed tomatoes
4 cups low sodium chicken stock
1 cup natural creamy peanut butter
1 cup roasted peanuts
1 tablespoon ground coriander
2 teaspoons cayenne, or to taste
salt and freshly ground black peppers
1/2 cup cilantro, chopped

cooked rice, for serving

  1. Heat oil in a large pot over medium-high heat. Salt chicken pieces and, working in batches, brown them in the oil. It’s important that you don’t overcrowd the pot. Set the browned chicken aside.
  2. In the pot, saute the onions for 3 – 4 minutes, scraping the browned pieces off the bottom of the pot as you cook. Add in the ginger and garlic and saute for another minute.
  3. Add in sweet potatoes, chicken broth, tomatoes, peanut butter, peanuts, coriander and cayenne and stir well to combine. Taste the sauce, and adjust seasoning with salt and pepper as needed. Place chicken pieces into the pot and bring to a simmer. Cover and let cook for about an hour, or until the chicken is fully cooked and sweet potatoes are tender.
  4. Remove chicken pieces to a bowl and let cool slightly. When cool enough to handle, shred the chicken and place back into the pot. Stir in cilantro and serve hot with rice.

recipe slightly adapted from Simply Recipes