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Not Your Mother's Spring Stew Recipe

Editor Andrew Harrison revisits his Issue 1 interview with hunter Joe Lanza, with a recipe that captures the wilder flavors of the NJ Turnpike.


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Photograph by Dana Yurcisin from his photo essay "Ways Beyond Roads."
Turnpike venison stew with Lanza's bow-hunted venison. Photo by Andrew Harrison.

For sportsman Joe Lanza, deer hunting provides solace, a sense of accomplishment, and often his next meal. As Lanza described in his Issue 1 interview, bagging a deer along the New Jersey Turnpike is no simple process:


“I never wash my clothes during hunting season… I walk around for a week, maybe two. I set the stand high in the trees to beat the deer’s biggest defenses: their sense of smell and sight.”

While you may never find yourself 30 feet up a tree, perched on a stand, 70-pound bow drawn, staring down a 250-pound deer, you could be sourcing your meat outside the usual supply chains. That said, you’ll have to do a little hunting of your own to get your hands on some deer meat. After all, venison is derived from the Latin venari, meaning to hunt or pursue. Your best option is to hunt out a hunter: maybe your neighbor, a friend of a friend of a friend, that gal in front of you at the ATM with the camo socks. They’re out there. You could, of course, turn to the Internet, but where’s the hunt in that?


However you source your venison, let this recipe put you into the skilled hands of a sportsman who's passionate about connecting land and community, served up as a hearty bowl of soul-warming venison stew. Let’s get cookin’.

 

Turnpike Venison Stew

Courtesy of Andrew Harrison, tried and tested (and devoured!) at the Issue 1 Launch Party, Mana Contemporary, Jersey City, NJ (November 2021).


Ingredients


Salt/pepper/seasoning

1 lb. of venison (ground or cubed)

2 Tbsp. of olive oil

2 yellow onions

3 garlic cloves

2 Tbsp. all purpose flour

2 Tbsp. tomato paste

2-3 rosemary sprigs

1 bay leaf

1 cup red wine

2 russet potatoes

2 large carrots

16 oz. of broth (chicken or beef) + more if required

Directions

  1. Season the venison liberally with salt and pepper as far ahead of time as you can. I like a little kick, so feel free to hit it with some cayenne or other spice that suits your palette.

  2. Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a large pot over medium-high heat and add the meat. The goal here is to sear it, not fully cook, creating a crusty brown layer that locks in the flavor. 5-6 minutes should do the trick. Transfer the cooked venison to a bowl and set aside.

  3. Using the same pot, turn the heat down a bit, add another tablespoon of oil, and most certainly leave those tasty brown bits of venison in the pan.

  4. Add diced onions and sauté until translucent (5-6 minutes), then add garlic and cook for a few more minutes. This is a good time to add/experiment with more spices as well.

  5. Next, stir in the flour and cook while stirring, until lightly brown (2 minutes). Add the tomato paste, red wine, bay leaves, and thyme – scraping the bottom of the pot to liberate those tasty brown bits.

  6. Grab that bowl of venison and add it back to the pot. Now add all the stock.

  7. Bring it all to a boil, reduce the heat, cover, and simmer for about an hour. At this point, you may be so intrigued by venison that you spend the hour researching the best hunting bows for beginners.

  8. After an hour, add the cubed potatoes and carrots, and simmer for another hour until the potatoes are fully cooked. Add more broth as required. The stew should reduce and be on the thicker side – this ain’t no soup.

  9. Remove the bay leaf. Taste and adjust the seasoning if necessary. This stew is particularly tasty after a day when all the flavors combine, so save some.

  10. Serve hot with a dash of Dense.

 

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Issue One