The Best Game in Town

Andy Mueller

andy mueller | in the kitchen with chef andy | jan. 2019

By now, you or someone you know has a freezer full of venison. After your 23rd venison sausage stick you might be looking for another option on the dinner table.

The phrase "you are what you eat" is never more true than in the world of Whitetails as they taste like .. .well, what they taste. Deer in the northern, woodsy areas of Wisconsin have a distinctive "gamey" flavor because they dine on pine and fruits of the forest. To our south, and in farming areas, they fill their bellies with corn to give the meat a sweeter, subtler flavor. If you know what they ate, you have a better idea of they will taste like.

Now that we are in full-on frozen mode, comfort foods are what we want. Something that fills the home with wonderful aromas of slow-cooked comfort that can feel like a warm blanket to our soul. With this recipe, you can substitute any type of meat you wish, but it's a perfect platform for all things game: elk, caribou, wild boar, moose or any other big game you can think of. The deep flavors that make up the hearty broth pair perfectly with any meat that isn't as mellow as traditional beef we normally use.

About halfway through the cooking process, I use ground juniper berries. I realize this is not your everyday pantry staple, but if you can find it at specialty shops or online, by all means, use it. Juniper, for lack of better imagery, is what makes gin smell and taste like gin. It has a "piney" aroma and softens to a rosemary-like flavor as it deepens during the cooking process. Without it, the stew is wonderful, with it, the stew is on another level in terms of layers of flavor.

As with any good stew, patience is required as tougher cuts of meat take some time at a lower temperature to become tender. The wait is worth it, as your home will be filled with aromas that make you feel like you're in a log cabin in front of a fire with snow gently falling in the forest.

Hunter's Stew

In a large heavy bottom Dutch oven or cast iron pot over medium to medium-high heat add:

1 cup diced uncooked bacon

Sauté bacon for several minutes stirring often. As the bacon just starts to get crisp add:

2 cups diced onion

1/2 cup brown sugar

Turn the heat to medium. As the sugar starts to dissolve and liquefy add:

4 cups venison roast, cut into 1-inch cubes

Season with:

1 teaspoon salt

Generous amount of fresh cracked black pepper

Add to the pot:

1 cup red wine

1/4 cup balsamic vinegar

2 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce

1 teaspoon minced orange zest

1 teaspoon ground rosemary

1 teaspoon ground fresh juniper berries (optional)

1 teaspoon dried thyme

2 quarts beef stock

2 quarts chicken stock

1 teaspoon mustard powder

1/2 teaspoon allspice

1/2 teaspoon ground ginger

1/2 cup tomato paste

4 garlic cloves, minced

Bring to a boil, reduce heat to slow rolling simmer. Cover and let simmer for 1 hour. Add to the pot:

1 cup diced carrots

1 cup diced celery

1 cup diced onions

1 cup diced red bell pepper

2 cups diced baby red potatoes

Bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer. Let cook with a low rolling simmer for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. To thicken slightly, mix together 1/4 cup cornstarch with 1/2 cup cold water, then add to the stew. Enjoy!


Chef Andy Mueller is a well-seasoned Chef with over 30 years in the restaurant business. He's been on Food Network with Guy Fieri, was Reggie White's personal chef during their Super Bowl run in 1996 and has been Executive Chef at Zimani's in the late '80s, the original Executive Chef at Black & Tan Grille the first four years of operation and owned restaurants in Door County including Glidden Lodge restaurant north of Sturgeon Bay and Hillside Restaurant in Ellison Bay. He currently owns the massively popular supper club 'Galley 57' in Allouez at 2222 Riverside Dr.

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