Monday, December 5, 2011

Braised Bambi

My father and my oldest brother like to hunt.  Every year they trek out into the Great Beyond together and manage to take out a dear, elk, or some hapless wild hog.  I'm really not the least bit jealous.  I tried the whole hunting thing back in my teens in an attempt for some father-daughter bonding.  All I really got out of it was a bruise from my elbow to my shoulder when I mistakenly grabbed my dad's 12-gauge shotgun instead of my 20-gauge.   Damn thing blasted me 20 feet out of the duck blind and onto to my rear-end in the middle of a Texan swamp.  My father still busts out laughing at the memory.  No thank you.   At heart I'm a city girl.   The closest I get to the great outdoors is living on a fairly wooded lot in the middle of suburbia.

Which is why it is a total surprise to me that I like wild game.   I may turn my nose up at getting out in the brush to hunt, but I'm the first one looking for hand-outs when there's a 12-point buck to be divvied up.  And even though I am a miserable hunter, my father dotes on me, so I'm usually the first beneficiary of his largess.  After each of his expeditions, there's usually a cooler of the kill waiting for me--conveniently already skinned, trimmed, and shrink-wrapped in plastic as though I picked it up at the Wegman's butcher shop.  My dad knows his girl.  This year I scored elk and a hind quarter roast of deer.   The elk was easy--rubbed it with garlic and threw it on the grill; deer is always more of a challenge.   If it isn't properly prepared, it can be tough, chewy, and, well,  taste like deer.  It's sort of an irony, but the fun part of wild game is getting it to taste like beef--unless you happen to be making squirrel, and then the challenge is getting squirrel to taste like chicken.  It will if you bake it slowly in cream of mushroom soup.  I recognize, of course, that no one will read ever read this blog again if I feature a recipe on squirrel, so instead, let me serve up some venison. 

Braised Venison
Adapted from a recipe by Bruce Reeder

1.  Get yourself a 4-5 pound venison roast.  I'm not sure how you do this if you don't hunt yourself or have a friend or family member that does.  You could start hanging out at shooting ranges or get yourself a job behind the gun counter at Walmart.  Join the NRA?  Become a Republican?  There are ways.

2.  Generously rub the roast with olive oil, and salt and pepper.  Lightly coat with flour.

3.  Generously coat the bottom of a large saute pan with olive oil, about 2 Tbs, and a similar amount of butter--one large pat. 

4.  When the butter begins to foam, pan sear the roast on all sides--about 3-4 minutes per side until lightly brown.

5.  In a crock pot, add the following:  one envelop dried onion soup mix, 1 can cream of mushroom soup, 1 can beef consomme.  Stop and think for a second how much sodium is in each of these items.  Put your salt shaker back in the cupboard.

6.  Add: 2 large onions, coarsely chopped; 4 carrots, peeled and diced; 2 stalks of celery, chopped; 1 cup burgundy wine; 1 Tbsp rosemary.

7.  Stir and mix well.  Add the seared roast.

8.  Turn the crock pot on to "low" and go do something else for about 8-10 hours.   You can hike, rake leaves, stack wood, go to the mall, or do a ton of laundry.  When you are done you can come home and find that Bambi literally falls off the bone and is floating in a thick hearty broth, that yeah, pretty much tastes like beef.  Thanks, Dad.

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