If Julia Child Was a Mississippi Girl
When I was a young, unmarried, girl I decided that I did not want to marry a man that hunted. Mostly because I didn’t want my husband hanging a taxidermied deer head over the mantle of our living room, its big glass black eyes watching me, staring down and me mournfully, silently asking me, “Why? What did I ever do to you?”
I knew finding a marriageable man in Mississippi that did not hunt would be a difficult task, but I waited patiently and during my senior year of college, I finally met my match. All through our four-year courtship and for the first three years of our marriage, The Husband was not a deer hunter. And then one fall out of the blue, guess what he went and did? Without even consenting me first.
He decided he wanted to take up deer hunting.
Looking back on it now, I should have had something written in our wedding vows. Like a pre-marital agreement or something. But hindsight is 20/20 and by then I had kind of gotten used to having someone around to get things down off the top shelf, move heavy items, kill bugs, and take out the trash. That and he’s kinda cute.
Oh, the things we endure for those we love.
So now, I find myself engaging in things I swore I would never do: I am actively searching for ways to prepare deer meat. Oh,
deer dear me . . .
About a month ago I was channel surfing, looking for something to occupy my mind while I folded laundry, and found the last half of Julie and Julia. There is this scene where a chick from the publishing company makes Julia’s boeuf bourguignon, takes a taste, then leans her head back and exclaims, “Yum!” It hit me right then, what if Julia Child had been raised a Mississippi girl? What if, instead of being a foreign-service officer, her husband drove a pickup truck, wore a Gilly suit, and was an avid hunter?
Well for one, she’d probably roll up her sleeves and know how to properly skin, clean, and butcher a deer in no time flat. That’s something I don’t know how to do and have no desire to learn. But Julia strikes me as being the kind of person that could hand you your ego on a silver platter and leave you standing there scratching your head in confusion.
This recipe has quite a few steps to it and takes awhile to cook, so don’t plan on making this one night after work. It’s best left to a weekend afternoon when you have some time. However, the end result it totally worth it. Good news it, you will likely have leftovers and this is one of those dishes that only gets better the second time around. The Husband and I both agree, “Yum!”
- 6 slices bacon, coarsely chopped
- 1 tablespoon olive oil or cooking oil
- 3 pounds venison or lean stewing beef , cut into 2-inch cubes
- 1 carrot, peeled and sliced
- 1 onion, thinly sliced
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
- 2 tablespoon flour
- 3 cups full-bodied, red wine
- 2 to 3 cups beef stock
- 1 tablespoon tomato paste
- 2 cloves mashed garlic
- ½ teaspoon dried thyme
- 1 bay leaf
- 18 – 24 pearl onions
- 1 pound quartered sliced fresh mushrooms
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- In a large covered ovenproof casserole dish or sauté pan, sauté the bacon over moderate heat for 2 to 3 minutes until lightly browned. Remove bacon with a slotted spoon, reserving the grease, and drain on paper towels. Set aside. Reheat bacon fat until almost smoking.
- Dry the meat with paper towels to ensure that it will brown properly. Brown meat in oil in batches. Remove the meat with a slotted spoon, reserving the bacon grease, and set aside with the bacon.
- Sauté the carrots, sliced onion, and garlic for 3-5 minutes or until lightly browned. Add the black pepper and flour and continue to sauté, stirring frequently, to remove the raw flour flavor, about 2-3 minutes more.
- Add the wine and the broth, scraping up any browned bits on the bottom of the pan. Stir in the tomato paste, thyme, and bay leaf. Return the beef and bacon to the casserole dish or sauté pan and toss with vegetables.
- Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Cover casserole dish and place in the bottom third of the oven. Braise for 2-1/2 to 3 hours or until the meat pierces easily with a fork.
- Alternately, add everything to the crock of a slow cooker. Cook on low for 6-8 hours.
- Forty-five minutes before serving, sauté the mushrooms and onion in butter for 3-5 minutes. Add to the casserole or crock pot and continue cooking.
- Serve stew over mashed potatoes or egg noodles.