Cold weather demands food that warms your bones and this Venison and Stout Stew sure does the trick. Tender lean venison in a gravy rich with dark stout beer and bacon, as well as mushrooms, sweet carrots and filling potatoes. Seconds for me, please …
I love flexible recipes like this one. No venison? No problem. Beef stew meat or a cut up chuck roast is perfect. Leave out the mushrooms or double the mushrooms. Cut the vegetables large or small. Use what vegetables you like. Any stout, such as Guinness, will work.
We like to regularly visit our favorite craft brewery Petrucci Brothers. My husband and I are huge fans of stout beer and these guys knocked it out of the park with their Lion’s Pride Coffee Chocolate Stout. As soon as I tasted it, I knew I wanted it in this stew.
Visiting Petrucci Brothers Brewing is like hanging out at your friend’s house. Simple, friendly and completely unpretentious. They also brew some of the best beer I’ve ever tasted, and I don’t hand out that compliment lightly.
Back to stew …
Let’s take a step into our culinary lingo and think about stew for a moment. “Stew” is both a noun – meaning a thick soup of meat and veg – as well as a verb. Stewing means to immerse meat in liquid and simmer until tender – generally a tough cut of meat simmered for a long time.
The difference between stewing and braising is that the food is covered with liquid when stewing, but only half-submerged when braising.
Making Venison and Stout Stew
The procedure for making this stew is straightforward. In an oven-safe Dutch oven, cook chopped bacon until crispy, remove it for later. Leave 1-2 tablespoons of bacon fat in the pan.
Dry your venison with paper towels and season with salt and pepper. In that hot Dutch oven, sear the meat until nicely browned and a bit crusty. Remove.
It’s important when searing anything that you don’t crowd the pan! Crowding doesn’t permit the steam to escape and you end up boiling your meat in it’s own juices. Sear in batches; you’ll have much better results that way.
Add onion and celery and sauté a few minutes. This will release the oils and moisture in the onion and sweeten it as well. If you added the onion raw into the body of the stew – like you will with the remaining vegetables – it would taste bitter.
Here’s my recipe for Dark Venison Stock if you’d like to make your own.
Stir in the garlic, flour and red pepper flakes. Pour in the liquids as well as the brown sugar and seasonings. Put everything else into that pot and bring up to a boil, just briefly. Pop it into the oven for an hour and a half while you go save the world, or at least get some chores done. Or have a nap.
After stewing in the oven for 90 minutes, taste the meat. If it’s not very tender, cook for another 15 minutes and taste again. Adjust the seasoning while you’re at it.
I like to cook a little extra bacon for a garnish on top of the serving bowls.
What to Serve With Venison Stew?
One of the best things about this stew is that it tastes better with time. Make it when you have time and serve it later in the week. It’s particularly comforting after a long day at work in the dreary winter – especially when you know it’s waiting for you in the fridge.
Venison and Stout Stew
- 6 slices bacon, diced ¼"
- 2 lbs. venison or beef stew meat
- salt & pepper for seasoning meat
- 1 large onion, diced ½"
- 2 ribs celery, diced ¼"
- 2 teaspoons chopped garlic
- Pinch red pepper flakes (optional, but good)
- 3 Tablespoons flour
- 12 oz dark stout beer (1 bottle)
- 2½ cups beef or venison stock
- ¼ cup red wine vinegar
- 2 Tablespoons dark brown sugar
- 8 oz fresh mushrooms, quartered or halved
- 6 carrots, peeled and cut in 1" pieces
- 3 medium gold or russet potatoes, cut in 1" cubes
- 1½ teaspoons dried thyme
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon black pepper
- Preheat oven to 350°. Pat stew meat dry with paper towels.
- In an oven-safe Dutch oven on medium heat on the stove top, cook the chopped bacon until crispy, then remove. Pour off all but about 2 Tablespoons of bacon fat.
- Heat the bacon fat in the Dutch oven on medium high heat. Sprinkle the meat liberally with salt and pepper and sear it in batches in the bacon fat. Don't crowd the pan. Turn the meat chunks over as they become nicely browned. Remove.
- Sauté the onion and celery on medium heat in the Dutch oven for about 5 minutes. Don't brown them. Add the garlic, red pepper flakes and flour and stir. Whisk in the beer, stock, vinegar and brown sugar, scraping up the brown bits crusted on the pan as you whisk. Add the thyme, salt and pepper.
- Return the meat and bacon to the pot. Add in the mushrooms, carrots and potatoes. Bring to a boil for just a minute to ensure you're placing hot stew into the oven.
- Cover the pot and place it in the oven for 1½ hours. You may need to remove an upper rack to easily fit the pot in the oven.
- Remove the pot and taste the meat. If it's tender, it's ready. If it's still a little tough and chewy, return to the oven in 15 minute increments. Adjust the salt and pepper seasoning while you're tasting.
- Serve with a salad and/or bread or muffins.
- I like to cook a little extra chopped bacon for a crispy garnish when serving.
- Light brown sugar works well in place of dark brown sugar.
- If you can’t place the pot in the oven, you can gently simmer the stew on the stove top for the same length of time. Just make sure it’s tightly covered and at a bare bubble. Stir now and again so the bottom doesn’t crust.
- If you’d like a gluten free stew, skip the flour and thicken the stew at the very end of cooking with a cornstarch slurry. Stir 2 teaspoons of cornstarch into 2 tablespoons of broth and stir into the stew after it’s done in the oven. If you were to add the slurry to the beginning of the cooking process, the cornstarch’s thickening power might not last.
- This stew is terrific when made ahead – the flavors only deepen.