I use shanks here because they have so much connective tissue: Once they break down, all that stuff makes the broth silky and it tastes as if there is a ton of fat in there, but there isn't. If I don't have shanks, shoulder is the way to go. You could do this with a large hind leg roast, but it would not be as silky. If you are using store-bought meat, my top choices would be beef shanks, stew meat and lamb shoulder.
Servings: 6 people
- 3 pounds elk shank, venison shanks or shoulder meat
- 1/4 cup duck fat or unsalted butter
- 3 onions, peeled and sliced root to tip
- 1 ounce dried mushrooms, rehydrated in 1 cup warm water and chopped
- 2 teaspoons dried thyme
- 3 or 4 tablespoons flour
- 2 tablespoons mustard, Dijon is best
- 1 cup venison or beef broth
- 1 or 2 bottles of beer, Belgian abbey ale is traditional
- 2 tablespoons cider vinegar
- 1 heaping tablespoon red currant jelly
- Black pepper
- Chopped parsley for garnish
If you are using elk shanks, cut the shank off the bone in large pieces, about 2 to 4 inches across; same thing if you are using shoulder meat. If you are using venison shanks, you can leave them whole if they will fit into your pot.
Heat the duck fat or butter in a large Dutch oven or heavy lidded pot over medium-high heat. Pat the meat dry and brown it well on all sides. Salt them as they cook. You might need to do this in batches. Remove the pieces as they brown and set aside in a bowl.
When the meat has all browned, add the sliced onions and mix well. Turn the heat down to medium and cook the onions until they are nicely browned and soft, which can take a solid 20 minutes. About halfway through, salt the onions and add the chopped mushrooms and thyme.
When the onions are ready, return the meat and all juices from the bowl into the pot. Mix in the mustard, then add enough flour to dust everything in the pot.
Stir in the mushroom soaking water (strain it if there is debris in it), the venison broth and at least one bottle of the Belgian beer. You want the meat to just barely be covered. Pour in more beer if need be. Bring to a simmer, add salt to taste, cover and cook slowly until the meat is really tender, anywhere from 90 minutes to 4 hours if it's a big ole' bull elk.
Once the meat is tender, whisk in the red currant jelly, the vinegar and add black pepper to taste. Garnish with the chopped parsley. Serve with spaetzle, egg noodles or potatoes.
Like all stews, this one is even better the next day, and it reheats beautifully -- so it's perfect to make on a Sunday for lunches or quick dinners during the week. If you're into Belgian flavors, try my Venison Steak Belgian Style.
Calories: 288kcal | Carbohydrates: 10g | Protein: 32g | Fat: 13g | Saturated Fat: 7g | Cholesterol: 73mg | Sodium: 220mg | Potassium: 766mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 3g | Vitamin A: 249IU | Vitamin C: 4mg | Calcium: 51mg | Iron: 4mg