After reading “Fast Food Nation” in college, I decided to adhere to a vegetarian diet. I followed it strictly for a few months and then, slowly, wild game filtered into snacks like homemade jerky or the occasional breakfast sausage patty.
At the time of my run with vegetarianism, I was also watching a lot of Food Network and starting to learn how to cook. I couldn’t properly boil noodles, my grilled cheese was always burnt, and scrambled eggs? Well—let’s just say my cooking made me not like scrambled eggs. To put it simply, I was a very green home cook.
The Food Network helped a lot, and actually, being vegetarian also boosted my creativity in how to prepare things. It is easy to take a steak and create something delicious, because steak just needs salt and pepper to make a meal. It took a little more thought for me when handed an eggplant.
Between being a vegetarian, Food Network, and making wild game jerky, I was spending a lot of time recipe-experimenting and just even thinking about food in general. Eventually, I dropped the vegetarian title from my name because I was adding a lot of wild game into my meal creations.
While I was very excited about wild game, my family and friends weren’t quite as enthusiastic—for whatever reason, they weren’t entirely converted when I served them a deer steak with mushroom cream sauce. So I looked into the possibility of substituting wild game into common comfort foods like shepherd’s pie, burgers, chilis, and stews. This Guinness Elk Stew was born out of that time: the stew is rich and savory, very comforting, rustic, and perfect for sharing.
Guinness Elk Stew
- 4 packets of unflavored gelatin
- 1 cup chicken stock
- 3 pounds elk meat, left in steak slabs
- 2 tablespoons high-heat oil, such as vegetable oil
- 4 onions, halved
- 5 carrots, roughly cut into large chunks
- 4 cloves garlic, smashed
- 1/4 cup brewed coffee
- 1 tablespoon fish sauce
- 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
- 1 tablespoon soy sauce
- 2 Guinness beers (16 oz. each)
- Bundle of parsley, thyme, and bay leaves
- 1 to 2 tablespoons flour
- 1 to 2 pounds of fingerling potatoes
- 3 carrots, diced, to add at the end
- 1 onion, diced, to add at the end
- Preheat the oven to 275 degrees. Place the chicken stock in a bowl and pour one packet of gelatin over the stock. Allow the gelatin to dissolve in the stock before adding the remaining three packets. At the end of four packets, stir the gelatin. It should form into small congealed balls. Set aside.
- In a heavy bottom pot or dutch oven, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Add the steak slabs in small batches, so the temperature of the oil remains high. Brown each side for three to four minutes and then flip. Set meat aside to rest.
- Leaving the drippings in the pot, add the onions, carrots, and garlic. Brown for four minutes. If needed, reduce the heat to medium so the garlic does not burn.
- Add the coffee, fish sauce, Worcestershire sauce, and soy sauce to the pot. Scrape the bottom to remove any drippings from the pot bottom. Add the Guinness beer and bring it to a boil. Place bundle of parsley, thyme, and bay leaves into the pot. Reduce the pot to a simmer.
- Cut the meat into bite-size pieces. Place in bowl and coat with flour, ensuring even coverage. Add meat to pot, place lid partially over, and place in oven. Cook for one hour, stirring every twenty minutes or so.
- Add potatoes and cook an additional 30 minutes.
- Add diced carrots and onions, (you could also add parsnips or turnips!) and cook additional 45 minutes.
Lindsey Bartosh, an eighth-generation Moab girl, loves hiking, hunting, fishing, cooking, writing, photography and working on her website www.huntingandcooking.com.