Juniper Berry Elk Stew

Juniper Berry Venison Elk Stew | Wild Food blog | wild game recipes

Still no elk (yet!).

But Roy did get an antelope! He got the doe Monday, and Tuesday was in the 70s, so it was a terrible day for it to hang. We managed to keep it cool, but we couldn’t let it hang another day as Wednesday was forecasted to be quite warm, too. So Roy butchered the antelope Tuesday evening, and we packaged all of the meat yesterday. The freezer is filling up!

Juniper Berry Venison Stew | Wild Food blog | wild game recipes

The sunset outside of White Sulphur Springs, Montana was gorgeous the evening Roy snuck up on an antelope.

Switching gears a bit… This fall, we started a new budget. We have just a bit of school loan debt left, and we really want to be done with it! Roy and I are listeners of Dave Ramsey and we are motivated to be debt free. Why am I writing this on my food blog?!?

Well, groceries have always taken a big chunk of our money. We rarely eat out, so we buy a lot of food to make our own meals. But, we could probably still cut back a bit (at least until the final loan is paid off). So in addition to only focusing on wild game recipes, recipes for the next several months will be even more affordable (but still healthy!)! That’s not to say there won’t be some interesting ingredients thrown in, because inexpensive food doesn’t have to be boring at all!

And as long as we are talking about affordable, one way to make recipes less expensive is to skip the canned goods as often as possible. Buy dry beans in either the regular size bags or in bulk (such as at Costco), cook a large pot full, and freeze them in various serving sizes (1 cup, 1.5 cups, etc.). I’m mainly bringing this up as today’s recipe uses beans I cooked and froze awhile back, so instead of referencing “1 can of beans” I use “1 heaping cup of beans.”

Juniper Berry Venison Stew | Wild Food blog | wild game recipes

Ok, on to today’s recipe!

I first heard about juniper berries on an episode of Splendid Table. (Since then, I’ve found out cooking with juniper berries is quite common when cooking wild game. I can see why…they pair nicely together!) One of the guests was talking about using juniper berries in a Polish-style venison stew. I remember writing it down on our white board on the refrigerator and there it sat for months and months… Before I knew it, the temperatures had warmed up, summer rolled in, and it was too hot to make a stew.

But with October here now, I finally made it, or at least used the recipe (more specifically the marinade) as a jumping off point. I think the original recipe sounds delicious and hope to make it sometime, but with our new budget, I decided to alter it substantially to fit what we had on hand. It’s really just your classic stew (like I grew up with in the Midwest), but with different flavors. The most important ingredient for me to find was juniper berries. I probably could have found some in the wild, but instead I found a great deal on them at World Market. Maybe you live in a more urban area where juniper berries are more common and easier to find at your everyday grocery story..

I marinated the steak (elk, antelope, deer…it all works! We’ve tried elk and antelope with this recipe.) with the juniper berries, cloves, allspice, thyme powder (dried thyme would work great, too…we have just been out of it for awhile now), salt, pepper, garlic cloves, red wine vinegar, and red wine for at least an hour (overnight works, too).

Juniper Berry Venison Stew | Wild Food blog | wild game recipes

After heating up the olive oil, I dumped the marinade and meat into the pot along with the onions and celery and browned the meat for a few minutes. Then I added the carrots, chickpeas, potatoes, beef stock, water, and bay leaves and let it all simmer for an hour. Simple, healthy, tasty, and budget-friendly! :)

Juniper Berry Elk Stew
Author: 
 
Ingredients
  • 1.25 lbs wild game steak, cubed
  • 6-8 lightly crushed juniper berries
  • ¼ tsp (heaping) ground cloves
  • ¼ tsp (heaping) allspice
  • ½ tsp thyme powder
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ½ tsp ground black pepper
  • 4 large garlic cloves, minced
  • ⅛ cup red wine vinegar
  • ½ cup red wine
  • Couple glugs of olive oil
  • 1 large yellow onion, chopped
  • 3 large carrots, sliced
  • 1 heaping cup chickpeas
  • 2 stalks celery, chopped
  • 2 cups beef stock
  • 1.5 - 2 cups water
  • 2 large bay leaves
  • Optional: 1-2 potatoes
Instructions
  1. Marinate meat with juniper berries, cloves, allspice, thyme, salt, pepper, garlic, vinegar, and red wine for at least 1 hour.
  2. Heat olive oil in large pot and add meat, marinade, onions, and celery. Cook for several minutes until meat is almost cooked.
  3. Add carrots, chickpeas, potatoes (if using), stock, water, and bay leaves.
  4. Simmer for at least 30 minutes or longer for even better flavor!

 

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