Braises are one of my very favorite ways to cook. It is incredible to walk into the house filled with the aroma of slow cooked venison, herbs and vegetables on a cool winter day. Meals cooked with this method are always full of flavor and body. Meats that work well when braised are usually proteins that have a lot of muscle fiber and connective tissue. As this breaks down, it dissolves into gelatin which adds body and to the cooking liquid. Successful braises intermingle the flavor of the vegetables, herbs and liquids making it a delight to enjoy! To me, if the meat is marinated overnight with an acidic liquid such as tomato juice, wine, beer and even coke, the meat becomes more tender and succulent than if braised without the marinade. If I am in a hurry, I skip this step, but a little of the richness is missing in the final result.
This braised venison recipe is easy and seriously delicious. It is one that you will make weekly and is perfect for the hunting camp! I used my Dutch oven, but this dish would work equally as well in a crock pot and can be prepared quickly using a "can cooker." The trick to this recipe is to allow the braise to rest for 30 minutes uncovered.
Ingredients (serves 6)
- 2 pounds venison roast, cut into 1-inch cubes
- 1 1/2 cup red wine
- Kosher salt and pepper
- 5 Tbs extra virgin olive oil
- 6 ounces no nitrate bacon, chopped
- 4 carrots, peeled and roughly chopped
- 2 yellow onions, chopped
- 4 ribs celery, roughly chopped
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 pound potatoes, cut to 2-inch cubes
- 1 pound button mushrooms, halved
- 1 Tbs thyme
- 2 Tbs oregano
- 2 Tbs rosemary
- 1 quart beef stock
- 16 ounces canned tomatoes, crushed with your hands
- In a large bowl, place venison and red wine. Marinate in the refrigerator overnight or at room temperature for at least 2 hours. while reserving wine marinade, remove the venison to a rack and dry with a paper towel. Venison needs to be dry to brown properly. Liberally salt and pepper the venison.
- In a Dutch oven or large cast iron skillet, heat 2 tablespoons olive oil until almost smoking. Brown venison in batches adding oil to the pan as needed. Remove venison to a plate and set aside.
- Add bacon, carrots, onions, celery and garlic to the pan and cook over medium-high heat until browned and onions are translucent (about 6 minutes). Add potatoes, mushrooms, thyme, oregano, rosemary, reserved wine, beef stock, tomatoes and 1 tablespoon of salt and 1/4 teaspoon of pepper to the pan. Cover and simmer for 2 hours. Turn the heat off and allow to sit uncovered for 30 minutes. This seems to allow the meat to tenderize even more. Serve with crusty bread.