Venison and morels are two of the most delicious foods that our forests provide. This recipe combines the two in a rich stew with layered flavors and simple ingredients. Buttery bread dumplings make it a meal…a truly divine meal.
This dish doesn’t lend itself to fine food photography. But, when you taste these dumplings with the rich venison sauce elevated by the essence of morels, you will not care that it isn’t pretty food.
Venison and morels have both been plentiful for our family this year, but if you do not have both on hand, you can substitute with beef and store-bought mushrooms. This dish could also be really great made with miataki or pear-shaped puffballs. I just might recreate this stew in the fall to try it with seasonal ingredients.
The bread dumplings set this dish apart from the average stew. They are easy to make and can be a great way to use up leftover and stale bread. I made these with a partial loaf of wheat bread and left over soda bread. If you don’t have stale bread sitting around, you can toss together a batch of these using a baguette instead.
The lack of potatoes in this stew keeps it from being too heavy when paired with the bread dumplings. Fresh spring peas and carrots from the garden add sweet freshness to counter the rich stew. This dish is hearty, but not too heavy and a perfect way to enjoy two delicious forest delicacies.
This makes 2-3 servings, but this recipe could easily be doubled.
- 2 cups chopped morels or other mushrooms
- 2 cups venison tenderloin or back-strap sliced 1/2-3/4″ (Lean beef could be used as a substitute)
- 1 small sweet onion, thinly sliced
- 2 slices of bacon
- 2 cups cooking stock (beef or venison)
- 4 ounces beer
- 1 cup carrots, cut into bite sized pieces
- 1 cup fresh or frozen green peas that have been thawed
- 2 cloves garlic, crushed
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 4 tablespoons all purpose flour
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
- 1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
- 1/4 teaspoon celery seed
- chopped parley for garnish
This makes twice as many dumplings as you will need for serving the stew. So, if you are doubling the stew recipe there is no need to double the dumplings, unless you eat too many of them before serving dinner. I make plenty of extras because I love snacking on them.
- 1 cup milk
- 5 cups cubed stale bread or cubed baguette including crust
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 egg
- 3 tablespoons all purpose flour
- 1 stick of butter for frying
- Preheat oven to 325° F
- Sprinkle 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour and 1/4 teaspoon salt on the 2 cups venison slices.
- Fry 2 slices of bacon. Remove the bacon and keep the bacon grease in the pan. Add 1 tablespoon olive oil to the bacon drippings.
- Brown venison in the olive oil and and bacon grease on medium high heat. Remove venison from the skillet and set aside. Turn down the heat to medium-low.
- Add 1-2 more tablespoons olive oil to the pan, add onion and cook until lightly caramelized (5-6 minutes.)
- Add sliced mushrooms to the onion. Cook until the liquid released from mushrooms has evaporated (4-5 minutes.) Add crushed garlic when mushrooms are finished. Stir for 1 more minute and then you are ready to make the sauce.
- To make the sauce:
- Move the onions and mushrooms to the edges of the pan creating a well in the center.
- Melt 2 tablespoons butter in the center of the pan, then add 2 tablespoons flour to the melted butter.
- When butter and flour are combined, slowly stir in 1 pint of stock. We make and can venison stock every year, but if you don’t make your own stock, you can use beef stock or broth.
- Return venison to the pan. Add 4 ounces beer, 2 pieces of crumbled bacon, 1/4 teaspoon salt, the pepper, thyme and celery seed.
- Cover and bake at 325° F for 1 hour or until meat is tender. If you use tougher cuts of meat, you may need to add 30 minutes of cooking time.
- When almost ready to remove from oven add green peas, stir, replace lid and cook for 5 more minutes.
Directions for dumplings:
- When the stew has 40 minutes of cooking time remaining, start preparing dumplings.
- Cut stale bread of a baguette into 3/4″ – 1″ cubes.
- Heat 1 cup milk and 1/4 teaspoon grated nutmeg until barely simmering.
- Pour hot milk over cubed bread, stir and let the bread soak up the milk for 25 minutes.
- Add 1 beaten egg, 2 tablespoons flour and 1/2 teaspoon salt to the bread mixture.
- Stir until combined.
- Melt 1 stick of butter in a pan over medium heat.
- Sprinkle the remaining tablespoon of flour over the top of the bread mixture to help it be more manageable.
- Form golf ball sized dumplings by hand and place into hot butter to fry.
- Fry small batches and roll the dumplings several times during cooking for even browning.
- When dumplings are golden brown on all sides, remove and place on a paper towel to drain.
- Serve stew with 3-4 bread dumplings in each bowl and garnish with fresh parsley.