My parents were in town recently, so we decided to cook a nice meal with some venison given to us by my in-laws. I personally love venison, because it’s a lean and flavorful meat, and if it’s in my kitchen I probably got it for free. We thought it would go well in a hearty, wintry meal with roasted brussels sprouts and potatoes.
I decided that braising it (cooking for a long time in a liquid) would be a natural fit for such a great meat, and I remembered a time I had tried to do a similar meal with dark beer as the liquid of choice. So we got some Black & Tan, and got to it.
The key with braising or roasting or any time you’re cooking meat for a long period of time is to do it for a long period of time, usually at least 2 hours. The difference between tough, chewy, dry meat and tender, fall-apart deliciousness is usually just a matter of time, and it’s important to make sure you don’t short-change in that department (I often do, and it’s been a lesson hard-learned). Other examples where this principle is true are steak chili and pulled pork, but there are lots of other great applications as well.
This recipe is for 2 pounds of meat, and it easily fed 5 people with plenty of leftovers. Feel free to scale it down. The only change I’d make in the future is to figure out something with the apples and onions: due to the super long cook time, they break down into mush and you lose their distinct texture accompanying the meat. It might work to also sautee some more on the side to add at the end, or to roast larger sections of them so they didn’t break down quite so much. If you come up with a good solution, definitely let me know!
Porter-Braised Venison Recipe
2 lbs venison
1 large onion
4 small apples (plus more to garnish if desired)
3 cloves garlic
1 bay leaf
2 bottles (24 ounces) dark beer such as a porter or stout
1 tsp paprika
1 tsp peppercorns, whole or ground
pinch rosemary and thyme
1 cup beef broth
4 tb red wine vinegar
1 tb worcestershire sauce
2 tsp molasses or dark brown sugar
1 tsp paprika
Cut the meat into 2-3 inch cubes. Salt and pepper generously.
In a large cast iron pan or dutch oven, sear the meat sections on all sides.
Meanwhile, slice the onion and apples. You can leave the skin on the apples (take out the seeds though, of course).
Add to the venison and continue searing and turning the meat.
Once the meat is nicely seared and brown on all sides, it’s time for the porter. Add it all in, followed by the beef broth.
Mix in all the rest of the spices and whatnot, and stir to combine. If you use a larger pan than I did, the stirring won’t be as stressful. Just a tip.
Simmer gently, covered, for at least two hours. Toward the end of that time, feel free to remove the cover to let the cooking juices evaporate to your idea consistency (just remember it’s nice to have some left to serve with the meat). Test the meat with a couple of forks or even your spatula: if it separates easily and doesn’t resist your utensil much, you’re in good shape.
There you go! You can see what I mean though about everything breaking down, so I’d definitely recommend sauteeing up some more onions and apples to add when you serve for some color and texture. Nevertheless, this is a delicious and hearty meal, and I recommend it.
Have you done something similar? What’s your favorite way to use venison?
See you next time, foodies!