It has been wet and gray and chilly here the past couple days. We actually had a thunderstorm last night! In February! But still it feels like winter out there, the dark, wet chilly kind of winter day that just chills you to the bone. Weather like this just calls for a good, hearty stew. This time for my stew I decided to do a wine reduction, add a hint of cinnamon, and fresh rosemary.
I have a lot of venison at my house because everyone in my family hunts (besides me) and they fill my freezer with meat. (They are so good to me. I’m very blessed!) If you don’t happen to have venison, you can use beef. If you use a different red wine or if you add more or less of some of the vegies, the stew won’t care.
Winter Venison Malbec Stew
- About 1 1/2 pounds of venison meat (or lean beef), cut into 1-inch cubes (I had about 3 cups of meat before cooking)
- 1 Tablespoon olive oil
- 1 large onion, chopped in large pieces (about 1 3/4 cups)
- 5 – 7 cloves of garlic, peeled and chopped fine
- 1/2 cup of Malbec (or other dry red wine)
- 1/4 cup of chopped bell pepper
- 3 potatoes, peeled and chopped into small cubes (about 2 3/4 cup)
- 3/4 cup peeled, chopped carrots
- 1/2 cup celery, chopped (save the leaves!)
- 3 cups of beef broth
- 1 1/2 cups of crushed canned tomatoes with juices (if you have whole tomatoes, just crush them with your hand as you add them to the stew … it’s a great messy bit of fun)
- 1 sprig of rosemary, chopped fine (about 1/2 Tablespoon)
- 2 bay leaves
- 1/4 teaspoon of cinnamon
- Freshly ground pepper and salt to taste
- For garnish: Celery leaves and/or fresh parsley leaves
- Heat the oil in your soup pot till it’s hot. Sear the venison cubes in the hot oil until browned on all sides. Remove the meat from the pan, but leave the juices in there.
- Add the onion and garlic to the pot and sautee over medium heat, stirring constantly, until the onion is soft and starting to brown.
- Add the wine to the pot and continue to cook and stir until the wine is absorbed.
- Add the remaining vegetables, broth, and seasonings and bring to a boil.
- Reduce heat to medium low (or low) and simmer gently for 2 – 3 hours, stirring occasionally, until the meat and potatoes are both tender. The potatoes should begin to break down and thicken the broth.
- Season with pepper and salt (if needed … I didn’t think it needed any) and garnish with the fresh celery leaves and/or fresh parsley. Serve with a hunk of hot, fresh bread or some cheesy garlic toast.
Have you ever been to New Mexico? If you haven’t, you must go. Really, schedule a trip to get there. Do it now. You must see this place before you die. It is one of the most enchanting places on earth. I used to live there.
When I first moved to New Mexico from the midwest, it was a complete culture shock. To me, it looked like I had gone from green to brown. I was young (fresh out of college!) and I was alone for the first time in my life. I was scared. I didn’t know anybody there. I had moved from my green, fertile homeland where I had so many family and friends to a barren land where I knew nobody.
All the houses in New Mexico are brown. The ground is brown. There are very few trees. Lots of sharp pokey cactus. Instead of lawns, they have rock “gardens” with yuccas. They have square houses with flat roofs. And there are roadrunners and black widow spiders and lots of tumbleweeds. I had one growing in my back yard once and I didn’t know it was a tumbleweed till it broke off and started tumbling about my yard. It made me laugh.
After I moved there, I discovered there are shades of brown. And most of them are really shades of pink or orange. They change color throughout the day. The mountains would turn watermelon pink at sunset. The sky was the most brilliant blue you have ever seen … and there were layers of clouds. Wispy clouds high up in the sky, painting the sky with their beautiful patterns. Lower down clouds. Big angry thunderclouds that in late summer would gather in the late afternoon, storm down from the mountains, dump on the city and be gone within an hour, leaving us in a rush of raging water.
I quickly learned the beauty of the colors of New Mexico. I fell in love with the southwestern art. I learned to drink wine at the wine festivals there. But more than that, I fell in love with the food. There is one signature ingredient that you will see in EVERY restaurant in New Mexico (seriously! it’s even at McDonald’s!)–Hatch Green Chile. I really recommend using authentic Hatch Green Chile in this recipe. You can buy it freshly roasted — or pre-roasted, chopped and frozen in New Mexico. Outside of New Mexico, about the best you will get is maybe canned green chile and if that is all you have, use it. It will not give the same flavor or spiciness to this soup that it really should have, but it will at least impart a bit of the flavor of a green chile.
In New Mexico in the fall, the smell of roasting green chiles is everywhere as they roast the chiles right outside the grocery store. You go and buy a “bag” of chiles (if I recall right, a bag was 38 lbs.) and they roast them for you on the spot while you stand there and smell the intoxicating scent of roasting chiles. Then you take them home, peel off the outside skin, and freeze them for your winter’s supply. I did that many years. Now, when I go to New Mexico, I take along an extra cooler, just for chiles. I buy as many frozen chiles as will fit in the cooler and bring them home. I am very reluctant to share them because I do not want to be without my precious chiles.
If you take my advice and go to New Mexico, bring an extra cooler and pack in as many frozen green chiles as you can to bring home with you. You will be happy that you did. Then you can make delicious dishes like this.
Corn Chowder, New Mexico Style
- 2 slices bacon, cut into small pieces
- 1 onion, chopped
- 4 cobs of corn,
- 3 cloves garlic, chopped
- 1/2 c. frozen Hatch green chile + 1/4 c. juices from the chile (or 2 – 4-oz. cans)
- 2 c. chicken broth
- 2 medium potatoes, cooked and roughly mashed with a fork
- 1 1/2 c. FAT FREE half and half
- 1 t. adobo seasoning
- 1/2 t. salt (or more to taste)
- 1/4 c. light sour cream
- In a large saucepan, fry the bacon over medium-high heat till it’s crispy.
- Add the onion and garlic and sautee until the onion is soft and translucent.
- Add the corn and sautee briefly, about 1 minute.
- Now if you are using frozen green chile, when you thaw it, some of the juices will collect on the top. This is the best juice for soup. Toss a bunch into the soup along with the chile. (If you MUST use canned green chile, don’t drain it! Toss in everything from the can, juices and all.)
- Add the chicken broth and potatoes and let cook till everything is hot and bubbly. If you want the soup a little thicker, add more mashed potatoes and let it cook a little longer.
- When you are almost ready to serve the soup, add the half and half and the seasonings, then stir in the sour cream until melted and smooth (that is, no lumps from the sour cream are left).
- Enjoy the hot, creamy corn and bacon green chile goodness.
This recipe was shared at Recipe of the Week-Secret Ingredient: Corn
It’s September and stew is on my mind. Usually when people think of stew, I think they think of meat, but I have found I don’t need meat to make a good hearty stew. If you throw a few beans in with some vegies and spices, you end up with something that is not only tasty and good for you, but also high in protein and flavor.
I know some of you are afraid of eggplant. I have a friend who teases me about putting eggplant in things. She can’t stand the thought of eating eggplant. What is so scary about eggplant? Is it that it’s purple? Oh how can you scorn such a lovely hue? What is more beautiful than an elegant lavender or that dark dark purple so dark it’s almost black. What better color to eat than purple?
Usually the purple cooks out and you end up with more of a brown color anyway. In fact, it looks a lot like meat! But the taste is sublime.
I suggest if you have an aversion to eggplant, perhaps you ought to give it a try. You might discover you like it … and that would open a whole new world of taste to you.
In this dish, I even covered the eggplant in chocolate for you. Yes, chocolate. In a stew. I know it’s weird. But it’s a good kinda weird. Go on, take a bite! It’s delicious …
Lentil and Eggplant Stew Mole
I saw this recipe on Serious Eats and thought it would be a wonderful hearty way to cook up some of my eggplant. Mole is a spicy savory Mexican sauce that is usually made with chile peppers and dark chocolate. I couldn’t find my cocoa powder, so I had to substitute chocolate syrup! It turned out beautiful though, with just a hint of chocolate aftertaste.
- 1 onion, chopped
- 1 bell pepper, chopped
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 tablespoon chili powder
- 2 teaspoons ground cumin
- 1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano + a bunch of fresh oregano leaves (or 2 t. dried)
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 3/4 teaspoon salt
- 2 tablespoons chocolate syrup
- 1 1/2 cups dry red lentils
- 3 cups chicken or vegetable broth
- 2 large tomatoes, peeled and chopped (or one 15-oz. can)
- 3 skinny Japanese eggplant, cut into 1/2-inch cubes (about 2 lb., the recipe says)
- Chopped tomato and cilantro, for garnish
- Toss everything into the crockpot and cook on low until the stew is cooked and the lentils are soft and plump … or until you get home after the day’s activities and you are starving for something hearty and hot. That’s what I did. I let it cook from morning till about 9 pm when we got home.
- Serve hot over rice with chopped tomato & cilantro on top.
Is it starting to feel more like fall for you yet? I notice it in the air here … chillier evenings, brisk mornings, a few leaves are falling already. And in the fall, I think of stews and soups and hearty warm dishes … so I know it’s still August, but the weather is telling me it’s time to make stew.
I say “beef” here because I didn’t actually use beef in this recipe … I used venison. I have a freezer full of venison and I don’t even eat meat that much! But everyone in my family hunts (besides me!) so there is always lots of venison. It’s a very lean and healthy meat, leaner than most any beef you can find. Some people think it tastes gamey, but really if it’s cooked and seasoned properly, you can’t tell the difference.
Now let’s talk about the potatoes. Have you ever heard of a purple potato? I think they are actually called blue potatoes … why on earth would they call them blue potatoes? They are most definitely purple! Nobody argues whether an eggplant is purple or tries to name it blue or red … it’s just PURPLE!
Anyway, about the potatoes. My dad grows them in his garden. You might have noticed I’m partial to purple if you’ve read any of my eggplant posts, but I’m also HIGHLY partial to potatoes. I could seriously eat potatoes all day long and never tire of them. So when you take a potato and make it purple? Yeah, these may just be the absolute perfect vegetable. My dad tells me they have as many antioxidants as blueberries. I don’t know if you’ve read about the super-powers of blueberries, but hey, trust me when I tell you that this is a super-good thing.
My dad’s purple potatoes have an intensely dark purple skin. Almost black.
And when you open these dark, dark purple potatoes, inside they are this lovely mottled lavender color. Look at that! Isn’t it pretty?
Maybe you have no purple potatoes … I know they are not easy to find! Don’t worry, red potatoes will stand in just fine for purple. (The lovely purple disappears into the stew!) Or yukon golds … or whatever potato you happen to have on hand, really. And if you don’t have venison, it’s okay, you can use beef. Choose a lean cut, though–and don’t worry if it’s tough. You’re going to slow cook it so it will be fall-apart tender and so tasty and warm it’ll toast your insides.
The secret ingredient in this stew is the hoison sauce. It will give your stew a complexity of flavor that nobody will quite be able to put their finger on. Shhhh! Don’t tell them! They don’t need to know all your mysterious cooking secrets … and they certainly don’t need to know how ridiculously easy this stew is to put together.
Mahogany Beef Stew with Red Wine and Purple Potatoes
- 1 1/2 lb. venison or beef “stew meat”, chopped in rough hunks. You can use a roast or really whatever cut of meat you like.
- 5 cloves of garlic
- 1 onion, chopped
- 2-3 good-sized carrots, peeled and cut in thick hearty slices
- 1 bay leaf
- 2 c. of beef broth
- 1 c. of red wine (I used Malbec, but any red wine that you like to drink will do)
- 3-4 good sized potatoes, peeled and chopped. I used 6 of the purple ones, but the ones I have are small. Just toss in potatoes until you think there’s enough potato in there!
- About 10 whole peppercorns
- 3 T. hoison sauce (if you don’t have any on hand, it’s easy to whip up your own hoison sauce.)
- Chopped fresh herbs: I used a sprig of rosemary (finely chopped), thyme, pineapple sage, parsley, and basil. (It’s ok to use dried herbs here too if you don’t have fresh.)
- I see a lot of crock pot stew recipes where you brown the meat and there are like 7 to 10 different steps. This is a crock pot recipe! It’s supposed to be EASY! I suppose you could do that … but frankly I am too busy … I just toss everything except the fresh herbs into a crockpot and let it cook all day on low heat. Towards the end (like in the last hour or so), add the herbs. (If you are using dried herbs, go ahead and toss them in at the beginning too!) You can add the rosemary earlier … rosemary can handle being cooked forever.
- Enjoy. Refrigerate the leftovers and heat them up as desired. It’s even better the next day.
This recipe was shared at Gooseberry Patch’s Slow Cooker Recipe Roundup.
What vegetable is more beautiful than an eggplant? I revel in the color and beauty of all vegetables, but really, in my opinion, the eggplant is the Aphrodite of vegetables. She is the vegetable goddess of beauty–royal purple, elegant, and oh so tasty.
This Lebanese eggplant dish is supposed to be a vegetarian dish. At least that’s how it is presented in my Mediterranean cookbook. And that’s how I made it, at first. But when I tasted it, while it was delicious in its own right, I felt a little sausage would make it even better. So after the first meal of it, I cooked up a couple bratwurst, peeled them, chopped them, and tossed them in. Oh my. That was EXACTLY what it needed. I’m totally guessing on the amount of sausage to throw into the whole batch–if you want yours more meaty, throw in more. If you want a vegetarian stew, it’s lovely like that too.
This dish literally took me about 10 minutes to throw together. I didn’t make it at all like they described in the cookbook … I just tossed everything into my crock pot and let it cook all day. The smell of this dish cooking will fill your home with Mediterranean love.
I used the 7 little lavender eggplant from the picture. If only they would retain that gorgeous color when cooked! I remember it though–with every cherished bite, I remember the purple.
Lebanese Eggplant, Sausage and Chickpea Stew
- 7 baby eggplants (about 3-4 inches long), chopped
- 2/3 c. dry, uncooked chick peas
- 3 large garlic cloves, chopped
- 1 onion, chopped
- 1 bay leaf
- 1/2 t. cinnamon
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 2 1/2 t. cumin
- 2/3 c. water
- 1 quart canned tomatoes, juices included
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 1/2 lb. low-fat sausage, cooked and chopped
- Cooked basmati rice (other types of rice would work too … I just really love the flavor of basmati rice and it goes SO nicely with this stew!)
- Toss all the chopped vegies, chickpeas, water, and spices into the crockpot. With the tomatoes, squeeze them in your hand as you add them to break them up–or whir them briefly in a food processor for a minute before adding. Stir briefly to mix everything
- Turn the crockpot on low and let it cook for a good 8 hours or until the chick peas are tender. Remove the bay leaf and cinnamon stick. Add salt and pepper to taste.
- Cook up the rice. Brown the sausage or if it’s sausage links, boil it in water, then chop and add hot to the stew.
- Serve the steaming hot flavorful stew over the hot rice with cilantro or parsley for garnish.
Adapted from the cookbook: Mediterranean, a taste of the sun in over 150 recipes, by Jacqueline Clark and Joanna Farrow
This recipe was submitted to Cast Party Wednesday.