It’s chilly and damp today. I’m undecided on what I’ll hunt later. I can sit with my bow and wait for my first deer. Or maybe it’s a shotgun day for partridge and woodcock. I’ve been told the woodcock migration has started so the birds are moving. Any day this time of year is chilly, especially if you’re sitting in a tree stand or ground blind, not moving for hours at a time. I like to have a hot meal waiting for me when I get home.
Stew is a great way to start if you’re new to cooking wild game. Bear meat, like other wild game, is lean. You won’t dry out the meat by overcooking if you’re making stew.
I use a cast iron Dutch oven for stew. If I’m home I set it on the back corner of the wood stove and let it simmer a while, otherwise it’s in the oven or on the simmer burner on the propane stove.
3 pounds bear stew meat
3 Tablespoons bacon fat
1/2 C flour
Coat the meat with flour and brown in bacon fat in the Dutch oven. Remove meat and set aside.
1 onion, chopped
1 pound carrots
4-5 large potatoes
3 stalks of celery
Wash and cut carrots, potatoes and celery into bite size pieces. Saute onion, carrots, potatoes and celery in the bacon fat. When the onions caramelize or the bottom of the Dutch oven is coated, deglaze with the wine. NOTE: Room temp red wine. Cold liquid can crack cast iron. It’s rare but it happens.
Beef stock, enough to cover all ingredients by two inches
2 cups frozen peas
1 jar stewed tomatoes
2-3 bay leaves
Italian seasoning to taste
Simmer until the potatoes and carrots are almost cooked. You can remove the Dutch oven from the heat and allow the stew to set for 30 minutes while it finishes cooking. If you’d like a thicker stew you can make a roux with equal parts butter and flour. Cook the roux for five minutes, stirring constantly, to eliminate the flour taste. Stir in a little roux at a time. Allow to simmer a few minutes to let the broth thicken before adding more.
Any recipe you have for beef stew will work with bear meat. Be sure to cook bear meat thoroughly.