I’m off to a soupy start to this year’s Dark Days Challenge, this time with an elk and vegetable stew with a tomato broth. We eat a lot of soup in the winter, some of them more successful than others. Count this one in the very successful category: meltingly tender elk, a thick, tomatoey broth, and plenty of vegetables. The vegetable stock didn’t hurt, either. In the past year I’ve taken to throwing many of my vegetable scraps in a bag in the freezer and then turning those scraps into stock when the bag is full. I’ve made chicken stock for quite a while, but we don’t eat enough chickens to keep us in chicken stock, so it’s nice to have vegetable stock to fall back on.
This was pretty much a standard stew, or at least standard for the stews I grew up with (save for the elk) and still make today. Carrots, onion, and celery browned in a little olive oil in my dutch oven, minced garlic stirred in just before stirring in a pint of crushed tomatoes. I cooked that for a few minutes over medium heat, then added rosemary and thyme, followed by enough vegetable stock to cover the vegetables by about two inches and turned the heat to low. Then I added the potatoes and quartered mushrooms. While that simmered, I tossed the cubed steak in flour, salt, and pepper, and browned it in a separate pan in a bit of olive oil over medium high heat. After it was browned, I scraped the meat and all of the little tasty brown bits into the dutch oven with the vegetables. After stirring it well, I put the lid on and put the whole thing in the oven at 300 degrees for about two hours. Since we weren’t planning to eat the stew right away, I put as much as I thought we’d eat in the fridge and the rest in the freezer (perhaps it will make another appearance during Dark Days…).
I’ve struggled with elk (and deer) turning out too tough in soups in the past, even with long cooking times and I’m not entirely sure what made this time different, but I suspect it may have something to do with the cut (sirloin tip) or the overnight rest in the fridge. Whatever it was, the texture was exactly what I was hoping for. Maybe this will be enough to inspire me to attempt another elk roast soon. Have you cooked game roasts successfully? Any tips?
Sources for this week’s dinner:
Carrots and celery from Full Circle Farm, Carnation, WA
Onions from Andersen Organics, Othello, WA, by way of Full Circle box
Garlic from Filaree Garlic Farm, Okanogan, WA
Rosemary and thyme from our garden
Tomatoes grown at Tonnemaker Hill Farm, Royal City, WA
Vegetable stock primarily made from trimmings from Full Circle vegetables or Andersen alliums
Potatoes from our garden
Cremini mushrooms from Champs Mushrooms, Abbotsford, B.C., by way of Full Circle box
Elk steak from the freezer (2010’s elk shot near Forks, WA)
Flour from Fairhaven Mill, Bellingham, WA
Exceptions: olive oil, salt, and pepper
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