In Mississippi, I would estimate about 90% of the population are deer hunters. Only in the South is camo considered a perfectly acceptable fall fashion and you are more likely to see Browning logos plastered on the back window of a vehicle than a 26.2 decal. My husband is no exception.The glint in his eye gets brighter the closer the calendar gets to October 1.Me? Well, I am of the opinion that I don’t want to meet it before I eat it. I just don’t think I could bring myself to shoot a deer unless there is a zombie Apocalypse and my family is starving.
However, I won’t turn my nose up at the meat. This season, The Husband has killed three deer and an uncle gave us a fourth, so I would say our freezer is pretty well-stocked with ground venison, smoked sausage, and handmade tamales. I used to think I didn’t like venison, but over the last few years I have come around. I frequently substitute beef for ground venison in things like tacos or meatballs and I almost always use the smoked sausage in dishes like gumbo and jambalaya. The breakfast sausage tastes no different than pork and the tamales are just FINE.
I have had this venison stew recipe bookmarked for several months and before The Husband took his last deer to the processor, I asked him to save me some meat. Deer are lean animals, so the meat tends to be tough. Deer fat also lends to the “gamey” flavor that most people are not a fan of, so usually most of the fat is removed before cooking or processing. Because of this, deer meat is perfect for dishes that require long and slow cooking times.
One thing I loved was the way the cup and a half of red zinfandel made this a beautiful, deep burgundy color. I was a little nervous about the use of cloves, allspice, and cinnamon in the spicy seasoning mix. Those combinations make me think of pumpkin pie and that was not the flavor I wanted. But the flavor is very subtle. You know it’s there, but it’s just a hint and not overpowering. Deer meat does have a slightly different texture than beef, so if you’ve never tried it just be prepared for that.
If you don’t have access to venison, don’t let that stop you from making this. Beef would work just as well.
- 1 cup dried pinto beans, rinsed and picked over
- 1 venison or beef roast (3 lbs.), trimmed and cut into 1 ½” inch cubes
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Spicy Seasoning Mix (recipe below)
- 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 5 tablespoons vegetable oil, divided
- 2 large onions, diced
- 6 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 tablespoons, sliced jalapeno peppers, diced
- 3 tablespoons tomato paste
- 1 ½ cups red zinfandel wine
- 2 cups beef stock
- 2 cups chicken stock
- 1 (28 oz.) can diced tomatoes, drained
- 1 smoked ham hock or hambone
- 2 cup carrots, chopped
- 1 cup frozen peas
- 2 teaspoons ground cumin
- 2 teaspoons ground coriander
- 2 ½ teaspoons chili powder
- 2 teaspoons dried oregano
- 1 ½ teaspoons dried thyme
- ½ teaspoon ground cloves
- ½ teaspoon ground allspice
- ½ teaspoon cinnamon
- Place beans in a small saucepan. Cover with cold water and then bring to a boil. Remove from heat and allow to bean to sit for about 1 hour, adding more water as needed to maintain the water level.
- Combine all ingredients for the spicy seasoning mix. Place venison or beef in a large resealable plastic bag. Add salt and pepper to taste and 2 teaspoons of the spicy seasoning mix. Seal bag and shake to coat the contents. Add the flour, reseal the bag, and shake again until meat is well coated.
- Heat 3 tablespoons of oil in a large, heavy bottomed stockpot or dutch oven, over medium high heat. Add meat and brown on all sides, about 5-7 minutes. Remove meat using a slotted spoon.
- Add the remaining 2 tablespoons of oil to the pot. Add onions and garlic.
- Remove 2 teaspoons of spicy seasoning mix and set aside.
- Add remaining spicy seasoning mix to the pot and stir to coat onions and garlic.
- Add wine, being sure to scrape up any browned bits that have stuck to the bottom of the pan.
- Add chicken and beef stocks, tomatoes, and ham hock. Bring to a simmer.
- Drain beans of any remaining liquid. Add beans, meat, and reserved spicy seasoning mix.
- Reduce heat to low.
- Cover pot, leaving lid slightly ajar. Simmer for 1 ½ hours.
- Add frozen peas. Continue to simmer for an additional 10 minutes until peas are heated through.