by Cat, Oct 2007 (Photo, right, from mibekfarms.com/stewtips.html)
A few years ago I learned I had a food sensitivity to all things cow, pig and sheep. I was heartbroken, because I’m an avid meat eater. So I sought out sources of wild game, such as wild boar, buffalo, venison, elk. And then I had to learn how to cook with these meats. (2014 update: that sensitivity has been cleared).
The first recipe I tried was from a cookbook entitled Wonderful, Wonderful Danish Cooking by Ingeborg Dahl Jensen, published in 1965. I had originally stumbled across this book in a dusty old used book store in the skid road part of Portland in 1971, when I had first moved there. I picked it up because, first of all, I have a Danish heritage, and second, because the author’s first name was Ingeborg, the name of one of my great aunts, and I’d never seen that name in print before. It has since become one of my most Beloved Cookbooks.
Anyway, in this cookbook is a recipe titled “Old Recipe for Danish Stew (Stuvet Oksekød),” that resembles German Sauerbraten. I figured if it was old, then the meat from that ancient time was probably less like modern beef and more like wild buffalo. So I tried it with some buffalo stew meat, and I was hooked. This recipe does not contain potatoes or other stew veggies; instead, these are served on the side.
I’ve since developed a delicious variation using wild boar and beer.
Beef or Venison, Buffalo Danish Stew
It goes without saying to choose pasture-raised and finished beef, or wild-caught venison. Buffalo, even those raised as livestock, will only eat pasture, so is a better choice if you cannot find pasture-raised beef and don’t hunt.
While the meat stews, steam some potatoes and root veggies, or roast them in the oven, to serve with the stew.
Ingredients & Equipment:
- 1 ¼ pounds beef, venison or buffalo stew meat, cut into 1″ cubes
- 1 Tbsp raw apple cider vinegar
- 2 Tbsp real butter
- 1 onion, sliced into ¼ inch rings
- 2 Tbsp unbleached white flour
- 1 ⅓ cup homemade beef stock (or buffalo stock)
- ½ tsp Unrefined sea salt, or to taste
- ⅛ tsp fresh ground black pepper, or to taste
- ½ tsp dried thyme or crushed dried rosemary
- shallow bowl or baking dish
- large cast iron skillet or stainless steel saucier pan with lid
- Place cubes of meat and any blood in a shallow bowl or baking dish and sprinkle with the vinegar. Let rest in refrigerator for about 30 minutes, while you prepare the sauce.
- Melt butter in pan over low heat. Add onion slices and cook 10 – 15 minutes over low heat, until translucent and lightly browned.
- Add flour and stir until the butter and flour are well mixed. Continue to cook about 3 minutes to warm the flour.
- Slowly add the stock, stirring well to avoid lumps, until the mixture comes to a boil. The sauce should not be very thick; it will thicken as it cooks. If too thick, add some filtered water a tablespoon at a time until the desired consistency.
- Place meat and accumulated liquids into the pan with the sauce, and add the salt and pepper. Stir well, cover and simmer gently over low heat for 2 hours, adding more filtered water as necessary to keep sauce from getting too thick. After the first hour of simmering, add the thyme (or rosemary), and stir well.
- After 2 hours, check for tenderness and thickness of the sauce, and adjust seasoning. The sauce should be like a medium-thick gravy. If not thick enough, cook a while with the lid ajar. Continue to cook longer, if needed, to reach desired tenderness.
- Wonderful, Wonderful Danish Cooking by Ingeborg Dahl Jensen, published in 1965