Yup – it’s still winter here in the Wasatch Mountain foothills. I don’t know what that Pennsylvania rodent predicted for the Eastern Time Zone, but we’ve still got it goin’ up in here in the Mountain West.
For me and mine that is a million kinds of awesome. We love the mountains, the snow, and the big spring melt that brings great fishing come summer. But our winters are BUSY, my friends. My older son, Tim Collins, has slalom and GS ski races at Snowbird this weekend. Our young ‘un, Sprite, has the parent-flattening triumvirate of hockey game, birthday party/sleepover, and ski lessons all within 24 hours heading straight at us.
In preparation for this winter onslaught, I’m making my easy do-ahead hearty stew. It can be assembled any time in the afternoon within a half-hour or so, then set to simmer for an indefinite period of time. Serve it with salad and biscuits and you’ll be universally lauded. To make it even more appealing for visiting friends, pop a prepared pie crust sheet on top of the reduced stew in the Dutch oven while you are assembling appetizers and cocktails après ski, and bake it until crispy for a rustic Shepherd’s Pie. Or, up the ante even more and scoop it into individual oven proof crocks and top with pie crust rounds. So little time on your part, yet so much praise will come your way.
I used wild antelope scraps from last year’s hunt for this recipe, because that’s what I have on hand and need to clear out of the freezer. It’s also very good with elk, deer, or your grocer’s “beef for stew.” It is superlative (really folks, make this for your St. Pat’s dinner) made with lamb trimmings.
Guinness & Game Stew (or, base for Shepherd’s pie and pot pies) – 6 generous servings
½ cup flour
1 tsp. kosher salt
1 tsp. fresh ground black pepper
1 Tbs. bacon fat (or vegetable oil)
1 lb. antelope (or other red meat) cut into ½” cubes
2 Tbs. vegetable oil
2 Tbs. flour (reserved from dredge)
1 – 14.9 oz. can Guinness Stout beer
1 medium onion, chopped
2 medium carrots, chopped
8 oz. brown mushrooms, cleaned and quartered
2 cups small yellow potatoes, scrubbed and cut in ½” cubes
1 cup green beans, cut in 2” lengths (fresh or frozen)
2 cups strong game or beef stock
1 cup fresh or frozen sweet green peas
For Shepherd’s pie/pot pies
1 prepared pie crust (homemade or pre-packaged)
1 egg, slightly beaten and mixed with 1 Tbs. water
1) In a medium bowl, combine flour, salt and pepper. Dredge meat in the flour mixture.
2) Meanwhile, melt bacon fat in a large cast-iron Dutch oven over medium-high heat. When hot, shake excess flour off of ½ pound of the meat and add to the hot pan, making sure there is room between pieces. Turn meat a few times to ensure all sides are completely browned. Remove from pan with a slotted spoon, then repeat with the remaining ½ lb. of meat, adding more bacon fat if needed.
3) After all meat is browned and removed from the Dutch oven, reduce heat to medium-low. Add 2 Tbs. of vegetable oil and sprinkle 2 Tbs. of remaining flour-salt-pepper dredge over the hot oil. Use a wire whisk to combine the roux. Keep over low heat for about 20 minutes, whisking occasionally to prevent burning, until mixture smells nutty and is a pecan-ish brown color.
4) Turn off the heat on the pan. In a slow steady stream (keep back and watch your eyebrows! – this gets steamy!) pour in the beer while steadily whisking the roux.
5) When the roux-beer mixture is combined and smooth, return heat to medium. Add all remaining ingredients – browned meat, veggies, stock—to the Dutch oven EXCEPT the peas (they’ll get mushy if you add them too soon), and the pie crust, etc (you’ll need that for the pie, silly!)
6) Bring to a low boil, then immediately reduce to low heat, simmer, and cover. Simmer for at least 1 hour, covered, for stew. A couple of hours will have your meat meltingly tender; add peas 5 minutes before serving to cook through.
If this is your stew, enjoy! If you are soldiering on for the big fancy finish, here goes!
Makes 4-6 generous servings
7) You now have a fabulous velvety stew (or leftovers of it, which you are now going to convert to fabulous pot pies). If you want to make Shepherd’s pie or individual pot pies, finish with the following steps:
8) Uncover stew and cook over medium-low heat for ½ hr. to reduce and thicken sauce, stir often to keep from sticking.
9) Preheat oven to 375*
10) For pie crust, you can either use your own crust, or use a pre-prepared roll out crust. In either case, mix one beaten egg with 1 TBS. water to brush on top of the crust(s) for crisp and shine
11) Either put then entire pie crust on top of your stew in the Dutch oven, brush on egg glaze, prick a few times with a fork to vent, and bake the entire pot in the oven on the middle rack for 30-40 minutes or until browned
12) Cut out four 5 ½” pastry rounds with a small bowl or cutter. Tear remaining scraps into long pastry strips. Ladle stew into four oven-proof soup crocks. Top with pastry rounds; roll excess scraps into long strands and use to make extra ‘crusty edges’ around the top edge of the crocks. Cut a small “X” in the middle of the crust to vent.
13) Brush with egg/water mixture
14) Place crocks on a rimmed baking sheet (you will have spillage!)
15) Bake at 375* for 45 minutes, or until crust are browned.
YUM. All of the above preparations are fantastic with a hearty Cabernet.