Fall and Winter, Intermediate, Main Courses, Soups and Stews, Venison

Venison Bourguignon [Venison Stew]

Venison Bourguignon is a Southern remake of Julia Child’s most famous dish. It’s a rich and hearty venison stew that’s perfect for a chilly winter night.

dutch oven full of venison bourguignon with a blue soup ladle, two bowls of venison bourguignon over egg noodles and a glass of red wine to the side

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Chef and TV personality Julia Child is well-known for her recipe for boeuf bourguignon. But 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. And instead of boeuf bourguignon, she’d likely make it out of venison. This recipe takes a while to prepare, so it’s best left to a weekend afternoon when you have some time.  However, the end result is totally worth it.

This makes a big pot so you’ll likely have leftovers. Good news is, it is one of those dishes that only gets better the second time around.  I served this over buttered egg noodles, but you could also serve it over mashed potatoes or creamy corn grits.

venison bourguignon ingredients include bacon, oil, cubed venison meat, carrots, onions, pepper, flour, red wine, beef broth, tomato paste, garlic thyme bay leaves, pearl onions, mushrooms and butter

How to Remove the Gamey Flavor from Venison

Vension is a term used to describe meat that comes from any animal in the deer family. This includes whitetail deer, reindeer, moose, elk or caribou. It looks a lot like beef and can be used as a suitable substitute in most beef recipes. However, it has a taste all its own. It has to do with the animal’s diet. It’s the same reason you’ll notice a difference in the flavor of beef in corn fed versus grass fed cows.

Some people, myself included, find the gamey flavor a little off-putting. There are some things that can be done out in the field to reduce the gamey flavor. However, if someone gave you the venison meat, you don’t have any control over how the animal was processed. Thankfully, I have a few tricks that, in my opinion, completely neutralizes the gamey flavor in the venison meat.

First, because a lot of the undesirable flavor is concentrated in the animal’s fat, you will want to remove as much fat or connective tissue (called the silver skin) from the meat as you can. A good, sharp filet or boning knife will quickly and easily take care of this.

Second, I always soak my vension in milk overnight or up to 24 hours. The milk draws out any residual blood lingering in the meat. Some people recommend soaking the meat in buttermilk, but I find plain old milk works just fine. I place my meat in a large freezer bag, add just enough milk to completely cover the meat, carefully press out any air from the bag, seal it up and place the bag in the refrigerator.

Another tip – I like to place the bag in a shallow dish or bread pan to catch any drips. If my plastic bag has a hole in it, I’d rather find out before milk and blood have dripped all over my fridge and made a huge mess. Once the soaking time is up, discard the milk.

Choosing the Best Red Wine for Venison Bourguignon

The term “bourguignon” refers to the French region of Burgundy, know for its red wine. The bourguignon method of cooking involves slowly cooking some type of meat for a long period of time in red wine. Pinot Noir is the most common red wine produced in Burgundy. It’s a dry, medium bodied red wine. However, don’t feel like you have to use a French Pinot Noir (they can be a little on the pricey side).  California and Oregon also produce excellent Pinot Noirs and they may be a bit easier on your pocketbook.

How to Make Venison Bourguignon (Oven Method)

Preheat your oven to 325 degrees F. If you haven’t already, cut the venison meat into stew-sized cubes. I lay the meat out on several layers of paper towels and blot with additional paper towels to soak up any moisture. This will help when we brown the meat later. I leave the meat sitting on the paper towels while I complete the first few steps of the recipe.

We will be starting our venison stew on the stovetop and finishing it in the oven. Therefore, you will need an oven safe dish with a lid. A Dutch oven (5 quarts or larger) is a good option because you can go directly from stovetop to oven. But you can also start the stew in a stock pot and transfer it to any large, covered casserole dish.

Start by browning six slices of chopped thick cut bacon over medium heat. Cook it for 3-5 minutes until the bacon is lightly browned. Remove the bacon from the pot with a slotted spoon, but reserve the grease. Place the bacon on a layer of paper towels to drain off any remaining grease and set it aside for now.

browning the bacon in a steel sauté pan

Reheat the reserved bacon fat over medium high heat until it is shimmering and almost smoking. Season the cubed venison with salt and pepper, then working in batches, add the meat to the hot bacon grease. We want each piece of meat to come into contact with the bottom of the hot pan, that’s why we don’t want to crowd the pot by adding the meat all at once. Brown the venison for 1-2 minutes on all sides. Then remove it from the pan with a slotted spoon and set it aside. Reserve any remaining grease.

browning the venison meat in a steel sauté pan

Add one large peeled and sliced carrot and one large, diced onion to the pot. Sauté the vegetables over medium heat for 3-5 minutes until they are browned and slightly softened. Add two cloves of minced garlic and sauté for 30 seconds.

Sprinkle in one teaspoon of salt, 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper and two tablespoons of all-purpose flour. Stir the mixture around until the vegetables are coated, then cook, stirring constantly, for two minutes.

Add two cups of red wine and two cups of beef broth, scraping up any browned bits that have stuck to the bottom of the pan. Stir in one tablespoon of tomato paste, ½ teaspoon dried thyme, two bay leaves and one 12-ounce bag of frozen pearl onions. If you are using fresh pearl onions, you’ll need approximately 18-24 onions that have been peeled. Return the venison and bacon to the pot and toss with the vegetables.

pearl onions in red wine with bay leaves on top

Cover the pot and place it in the bottom third of the oven. Cook for 2-1/2 to 3 hours or until the meat pierces easily with a fork. 

When you have about 45 minutes left of cooking time, melt two tablespoons of unsalted butter in a large skillet. Sauté one pound of sliced button mushrooms Sauté them for five minutes, then stir them to the stew, place the pot back in the oven and allow them to cook for the duration.

venison bourguignon with mushroom added

Slow Cooker Method

Brown the bacon and the venison as instructed above, then add it to the crock of a slow cooker. Add all the remaining ingredients except the mushrooms. About 45 minutes before serving, sauté the mushrooms in butter. Transfer the mushrooms to the slow cooker, stir them into the stew, return the lid to the slow cooker and allow them to cook for the duration.

Instant Pot Method

Press the SAUTE function. Once the Instant Pot is hot, add the bacon and brown. Remove the bacon from the pot with a slotted spoon. Brown the venison, working in batches. Remove the browned venison from the pot and set it aside.

Add the carrot and onion. Sauté the vegetables over medium heat for 3-5 minutes until they are browned and slightly softened. Add the garlic and sauté for 30 seconds. Sprinkle in the salt, ground black pepper and flour. Stir the mixture around until the vegetables are coated, then cook, stirring constantly, for two minutes.

Add the red wine and beef broth, scraping up any browned bits that have stuck to the bottom of the pan. Stir in the tomato paste, dried thyme, bay leaves and pearl onions. Return the venison and bacon to the pot and toss with the vegetables.

Turn off the SAUTE function. Seal the Instant Pot. Select the MANUAL function and set the time for 30 minutes. Once the 30 minutes are up, sauté the mushrooms in the butter while the pressure in the Instant Pot releases naturally. Add the mushrooms, the seal the Instant Pot again and reset the time for five minutes. Allow the pressure in the Instant Pot to release naturally.

How to Store Leftovers

Allow the venison stew to cool before transferring it to a container with a lid. Consume leftover stew within four days.

To freeze, transfer the cooled venison bourguignon to a freezer safe container or freezer bags. Remember to leave enough space at the top to allow the food to expand as it freezes. If using freezer bags, carefully fold down the top of the bag to remove any trapped air, then seal. Consume within three months. Allow the stew to thaw overnight in the refrigerator before reheating.

bowl of venison bourguignon over egg noodles with a second bowl, a Dutch oven, carrots, a cutting board and red wine in the background

More Venison Recipes:

bowl of venison bourguignon over egg noodles with a second bowl, a Dutch oven, carrots, a cutting board and red wine in the background
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5 from 6 votes

Venison Bourguignon [Venison Stew]

Venison Bourguignon is a Southern remake of Julia Child’s most famous dish. It’s a rich and hearty venison stew that's perfect for a chilly winter night.
Course Entree, Soups
Cuisine American, Southern
Cook Time 3 hours
Total Time 3 hours
Servings 6 people
Calories 271kcal
Author Lisa B.

Ingredients

  • 6 slices thick-cut bacon coarsely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon cooking oil
  • 3 pounds venison or lean stewing beef cut into 2-inch cubes
  • 1 large carrot peeled and sliced
  • 1 large onion chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic minced
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 2 cups full-bodied red wine
  • 2 cups beef stock
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • ½ teaspoon dried thyme
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 (12 ounce) package frozen pearl onions or 18-24 fresh pearl onions, peeled
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 pound sliced button mushrooms

Instructions

Stovetop and Oven Method:

  • Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.
  • In a large covered ovenproof casserole dish or sauté pan, sauté the bacon over medium 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.
  • Add the oil to the bacon grease. Reheat it until it's shimmering and almost smoking.
  • Dry the venison meat with paper towels to ensure that it will brown properly. Season with salt and pepper. Brown the meat in the oil in batches. Remove the meat with a slotted spoon, reserving the oil, and set aside with the bacon.
  • Sauté the carrots and sliced onion for 3-5 minutes or until lightly browned.
  • Add the garlic and sauté for 30 seconds.
  • 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, bay leaves and pearl onions.
  • Return the venison and bacon to pan and toss with the vegetables.
  • Cover the pot and place it in the bottom third of the oven. Braise for 2-1/2 to 3 hours or until the meat pierces easily with a fork.
  • Forty-five minutes before serving, sauté the mushrooms in butter for 3-5 minutes until tender. Add the mushrooms to the pot and continue cooking.
  • Serve stew over mashed potatoes or egg noodles.

Slow Cooker Method

  • Brown the bacon and the venison as instructed above, then add it to the crock of a slow cooker.
  • Add all the remaining ingredients except the mushrooms.
  • Cook on low for 8 hours or high for six hours.
  • About 45 minutes before serving, sauté the mushrooms in butter. Transfer the mushrooms to the slow cooker, stir them into the stew, return the lid to the slow cooker and allow them to cook for the duration.

Instant Pot Method

  • Press the SAUTE function. Once the Instant Pot is hot, add the bacon and brown. Remove the bacon from the pot with a slotted spoon. Brown the venison, working in batches. Remove the browned venison from the pot and set it aside.
  • Add the carrot and onion. Sauté the vegetables over medium heat for 3-5 minutes until they are browned and slightly softened. Add the garlic and sauté for 30 seconds. Sprinkle in the salt, ground black pepper and flour. Stir the mixture around until the vegetables are coated, then cook, stirring constantly, for two minutes.
  • Add the red wine and beef broth, scraping up any browned bits that have stuck to the bottom of the pan. Stir in the tomato paste, dried thyme, bay leaves and pearl onions. Return the venison and bacon to the pot and toss with the vegetables.
  • Turn off the SAUTE function. Seal the Instant Pot. Select the MANUAL function and set the time for 30 minutes. Once the 30 minutes are up, sauté the mushrooms in the butter while the pressure in the Instant Pot releases naturally. Add the mushrooms, the seal the Instant Pot again and reset the time for five minutes. Allow the pressure in the Instant Pot to release naturally.

Notes

How to Store Leftovers:
Allow the venison stew to cool before transferring it to a container with a lid. Consume leftover stew within four days.
To freeze, transfer the cooled venison bourguignon to a freezer safe container or freezer bags. Remember to leave enough space at the top to allow the food to expand as it freezes. If using freezer bags, carefully fold down the top of the bag to remove any trapped air, then seal. Consume within three months. Allow the stew to thaw overnight in the refrigerator before reheating.

Nutrition

Serving: 1cup | Calories: 271kcal | Carbohydrates: 32g | Protein: 24g | Fat: 5g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 77mg | Sodium: 791mg | Fiber: 4g | Sugar: 7g

18 Comments

  1. I’m so glad you enjoyed in, Emily! Thank you so much for coming back and leaving a comment.

  2. 5 stars
    This was very hearty and delicious. The flavor was INCREDIBLE. The deer meat and veggies were so tender. I was so proud of this meal! No mushrooms for us and I just used red cooking wine. I can’t wait to make this again!

  3. Trinity, that is amazing! So proud of you for taking up an interest in cooking. Keep up the good work and thank you for coming back and leaving a comment.

  4. 5 stars
    I am a 12 year old, and I made this for dinner, it was amazing! It went so well with the egg noodles.

  5. 5 stars
    Made this for dinner today it was amazing…….

  6. 5 stars
    So good, no gamey taste at all (no pre-soaking required to remove that taste either). Everyone loved it, even the one who doesn’t like wild game.

  7. That’s awesome! Thank you so much for coming back and leaving a comment.

  8. 5 stars
    Made this for dinner today it was amazing. I used 2 small venison roast, chunked them up and had over noodles. Leftovers will be with mashed potatoes. Thanks for the recipe.

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