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Should you ever find yourself with an abundance of venison on your hands (via a generous hunter or a murderous rampage against the buck raiding your flower beds), consider whipping up a batch of Hirschgulasch.  This recipe originates from an Austrian restaurant where I used to serve and bartend.  I met many a character there, including a cokehead bartender who claimed to have immortality and a kindhearted Turkish law student.  We slaved long hours together, hoping for big tips and generosity from chef Thomas, who would save us a portion of the venison Gulasch special when he was in a good mood. After a hard night’s work, there was nothing more comforting than a plate of tender wine-braised game over dumplings.  Years after leaving, the dish was still on my mind, so I contacted Thomas for the recipe.

I hope you find Hirschgulasch as memorable as I did.

-1 lb. venison shoulder, trimmed and cubed
-4 small onions, halved and cut into thin wedges
-4 shallots, cut into wedges
-1 Tbsp. flour
-3/4 bottle (450 ml) red wine (I used a light tempranillo)
-1 c. dark beef broth
-1 tsp. beef bullion (staying true to Thomas’ recipe)
-dash each paprika and cayenne
-a few sprigs fresh thyme, stemmed
-1 tsp. fresh minced rosemary
-1-2 cloves garlic, minced
-8 juniper berries
-8 peppercorns
-2 bay leaves
-1 Tbsp. lingonberry jam (or whole cranberry sauce), plus more for serving
-salt and pepper, to taste
-vegetable oil

1. In a large, heavy pot, heat a few Tbsp. vegetable oil until very hot.

2. Dry venison cubes on all sides with a towel. Season liberally with salt and pepper. Sear in batches in the hot oil to brown and develop a nice crust all over. Remove from the pot with a slotted spoon and set aside.

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