My verdict? Too much work, trying to take pictures in the middle of cooking something, especially when you've got your hands all gunky with raw venison and have to keep washing them in order to take pictures. So I doubt I'll do it again, unless I get an assistant with enough time on his hands to photograph every stage for me. But it was kind of fun nonetheless.
This knife made the work easy. If I were a professional blogger, I would tell you what brand it was, but I'm not and so I don't actually know. It was a wedding gift from my grandma, a more serious (and talented) cook than I will ever be.
Meanwhile, the completed batches of meat sat in another pan. It's a good use for this pan, as it heats unevenly and everything in the world sticks to it.
Mm, yummy browned meat! It's not good to eat yet, though -- only the outside of each piece is cooked, and I did leave some pink spots anyway.
I threw the onions into the pot with the last batch of browned meat.
Once they were a little bit cooked, I dumped in all the browned meat. I added some water -- about a cup -- along with the juice from the bag of meat, and debated adding this wine:
Was it worth opening a bottle just for this stew? I decided yes. (We were out of the Chianti which has stood me in such good stead for so many dinners.) Unfortunately John was disappointed that I'd opened it ... perhaps he was saving it for something. Moral of the story is, call your husband before getting into his good wine and using it for cooking.
But it did look and smell delicious going into the pot (the kind of delicious that makes me chant to myself "my baby is going to need his brain later" to keep myself from having a glass. I did, however, lick my fingers, and it was indeed quite good wine). It added a bit of color, which the stew was lacking a bit. Either I didn't brown the meat quite right (as I usually don't -- I've only really had success with this once when making beef stew) or venison is just a little lighter. The wine remedied this wonderfully:
You see I've got it set to 2 on the stove, which is a slightly higher simmer. 1 occasionally fails to simmer at all, so I thought 2 would be better. After this I took a bath and (accidentally) a long nap. Oh well, good use of a Saturday!
I woke up to a delicious smell about two and a half hours later. My stew was ready:
John got home about a half hour later, which was lucky, because I don't know how long I could have held myself off from starting in. Then he wanted to go to confession, so we both went, letting the stew get another half hour of simmering. (They do say the longer it simmers, the better!)
When we got back, I cooked up some macaroni to serve the stew over. Next time I serve it (because, believe me, this is not a one-dinner meal!) I'll probably do potatoes, but I like noodles better. I didn't thicken the sauce, as some people like to do, because I prefer it as-is. (If I had been going to thicken it, a flour-and-water paste would probably work fine. Just make sure to simmer that for awhile for it to actually take effect -- I have ruined a lot of things by continually adding more flour and water, thinking what I put in hadn't worked, and then having it congeal in the fridge later. Yuck.)
For seasonings, I added salt, garlic salt, and poultry seasoning. The poultry seasoning had thyme, rosemary, marjoram, black pepper, and sage, so it had everything I would have wanted to put in.
Then I served it over the macaroni and finally got to try some.
It was pretty good! John had three helpings. Hope he doesn't get tired of it, because we're having it tomorrow, too.
One note on the flavor, though: most venison recipes advertise that they take away "that gamey flavor" and that it "tastes just like beef." This one doesn't. It tastes like venison. So if you are cooking venison and don't like the gamey flavor, I would suggest marinating the meat beforehand. Apple cider vinegar is great for this. Do, however, remember to dry off the meat afterward if you intend to brown it.
You may notice that I didn't add any vegetables. This was mainly because I didn't have any, and secondarily on the thought that I might want to add different things to it on different days, since it made such a huge batch. My plan, once I get to the store, is to add mushrooms and carrots. I think those would do a lot for it. Especially the mushrooms ... yum.
So, this was fun to do, and good to eat, too. Don't my pictures look nice? I always thought those food bloggers did something special to make the food in their pictures look so yummy, but apparently not. I didn't even have trouble with lighting, as I cooked it in the middle of the day and had the blind open. Feel free to comment!