© David Loftus
venison & juniper stew
The Navajo love their lamb and mutton, but back in the day – at the right times of the year – they’d also get out there and hunt things like elk, which they’d stew with wild juniper berries. What’s amazing for me is that thousands of miles away in Britain we were hunting deer for venison and stewing that with juniper too. I guess some combos are just brilliant, no matter where you live. Don’t worry if you can’t get venison, because stewing beef will also be delicious. Really nice served with some rice, beans, a jacket potato or bread-recipes/navajo-flatbreads">flatbreads, or, if you’re a bit more traditional, some nice steamed greens. A humble but delicious stew.
Dust a chopping board with 2 tablespoons of flour and a good pinch of salt and pepper, and toss your chunks of meat through this mixture until well coated. Heat a large pan on a high heat, add a few lugs of olive oil and fry your meat for 3 minutes to brown it. Add your chopped onions, carrots, celery, crushed juniper berries, rosemary and the knob of butter. Add a few tablespoons of water, give everything a good stir, then pop the lid on the pan and let everything steam for 4 to 5 minutes so the flavours really mingle together.
Take the lid off so your meat and veg start to fry, and stir every so often for 5 to 10 minutes. Chop your parsley stalks finely, and once the onions start to caramelize, add them to the pan with your remaining 2 tablespoons of flour and your crumbled stock cubes. Stir, and pour in enough water to cover the mixture by a couple of inches. Put the parsley leaves aside for later.
Bring to the boil, then turn the heat down to medium low so that the stew is just simmering. Add your potatoes and slow cook for at least 2 hours with the lid slightly askew, or until the meat falls apart easily. Keep an eye on it as it cooks, and add splashes of water if you think it looks too dry.
Put your chopped garlic in the middle of a chopping board. Add most of your parsley leaves with a teaspoon of sea salt and ½ a teaspoon of black pepper. Chop everything together so you get a kinda chunky paste. Add this to the stew and stir through. Chop the last of your parsley leaves and sprinkle over before serving.
Californian red – a Merlot from the Napa Valley or Sonoma County
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• 4 tablespoons plain flour
• sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
• 800g stewing venison or beef, cut into 2cm chunks
• olive oil
• 2 onions, peeled and roughly chopped
• 3 carrots, peeled and roughly chopped
• 2 sticks of celery, trimmed and roughly chopped
• 1 tablespoon juniper berries, crushed in a pestle and mortar
• 2 sprigs of rosemary, leaves picked and chopped
• a knob of butter
• 6 sprigs of fresh flat-leaf parsley
• 2 beef stock cubes, preferably organic
• 600g small new potatoes, scrubbed clean, larger ones halved
• 1 clove of garlic, peeled and finely chopped