A weird thing happened on my deer hunt in October.
Let me preface this story with some self-defense. I respect anybody’s distaste/dislike for hunting, but am mystified by those who eat slaughterhouse beef shot full of hormones then angrily judge my choice to shoot my own meat when possible.
Anyway, on this hunt I shot a very nice buck, but I’ve never seen one still in velvet that late in the season. Usually deer shed their velvet late summer, before the rut, and by the time hunting season rolls around, their antlers are completely devoid of any velvet. However, this buck was in full velvet, like it was still summer! We had never seen anything like that! At first, I thought “global warming – dang, if Al wasn’t right”! However, when I spoke to the taxidermist and asked if he knew what was going on, he had an interesting answer for me. Essentially, I shot a gay deer. His testicles never really…hmm…got busy, and he wasn’t at all interested in female deer. So his antlers never got the signal to shed, hence to rut and date the ladies.
I’m probably going to hear from GLAAD, aren’t I?
But meat is meat. I am a non-gender-biased cook! I have a freezer full of the best organic venison! Beautiful roasts, steaks, ground meat for all kinds of dishes, spicy jerky…the purest, healthiest protein available. The only thing better (to me) is fresh elk meat, but I didn’t fill my elk tag this year.
“Ol’ What’s His Name” has been hounding me to make a venison stew of some kind, something different than my usual chili. I love a potato soup, so I came up with this soupy stew. It’s definitely one of those stove-top concoctions that is best on a cold winter night, with warm biscuits and then baked apples for dessert. If you don’t have venison, ground beef would work just fine.
“Alternative Life-Style Venison Stew with Potatoes and Crispy Leeks”
6 large red potatoes, unpeeled, cut into bite-sized pieces
1 qt. beef stock (you may want to throw some salt in there, if the stock isn’t salty enough)
4 slices bacon, cut into ½ inch pieces
1 tablespoon olive oil
4 large leeks, washed well, trimmed and thinly sliced (white part only)
1 small box button mushrooms, sliced
1 pound ground venison (or ground beef)
1/2 teaspoon allspice
1/2 teaspoon rubbed sage
1 teaspoon salt (or more…venison needs salt!)
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 cup whipping cream
1. Place cut potatoes and beef stock into large stock pot. Bring to boil then lower heat slightly and simmer until potatoes are fork tender, about 20 minutes.
2. Meanwhile, while potatoes are cooking, heat a large skillet over medium heat. Add bacon and sauté, stirring often, until bacon is crispy. Remove with slotted spoon to paper towels to drain.
3. Add olive oil to skillet and then add leeks. Sauté, stirring often until leeks are just turning brown and starting to crisp. Stir in the mushrooms and continue sautéing until mushrooms are just brown on edges. Remove leeks/mushrooms to plate, cover with foil to keep warm.
4. Add venison to skillet, crumbling with wooden spoon and sauté until meat is well-browned all over. Add the allspice and sage, stir. Add vegetables back into skillet, along with the crispy bacon, and stir to combine. Cook until potatoes are tender, and then add meat and vegetables to stockpot.
5. Bring soup to simmer, add salt and pepper and correct seasonings if necessary. Add cream and continue to cook until soup is back to simmer.
6. Ladle into bowls and serve immediately.
"Say, honey, gay deer isn't half bad!"