This Use-What-You-Got stew is perfect for the long winter months ahead. Basically, you take whatever game you've got stocked in the freezer and the hardiest vegetables from your root cellar and throw them in a pot. It also doesn't matter what cooking method you use. This recipe easily translates from the Dutch oven to slow cooker to Instant Pot.
I like to do stew differently than most recipes I've come across. I prefer to brown my meat first. It really adds a layer of flavour that you don't want to miss. If you are making this in the Dutch oven you could probably skip this step if you need to save time, as braising it this way adds a fair bit of patina to the meat. However, if you choose the slow cooker or Instant Pot, the meat could use a boost from taking the extra step and dirtying a pot on the stovetop first.
Besides browning the meat, I also like to give it a head start on cooking. This way my meat gets extra tender and the veggies aren't mush. I also find that wild game needs a bit more cooking time than beef does, so this method helps. These extra steps mean it isn't exactly a set it and forget it meal, but I promise it is worth needing to add ingredients partway through.
If you want to up your game, double or triple the part where you saute meat, onions, add in spices, wine and broth and let it cook…then when it's done, scoop out a quart (if you triple it, you’ll be scooping out roughly two quarts) worth of the tender meat and amazing broth…cool, label, pop in the freezer to be a quick start on another meal such as my stroganoff, pot pie or another delicious stew.
The leftovers of this stew can easily be used to make a pot pie- simply make the crust in my pot pie recipe, dump the stew into a 9x13 dish, top with the crust, and bake. A great way to make leftovers not feel like leftovers! You can make the pot pie the next day, or you can simply freeze the leftover stew. I love these containers because they hold up well to several uses.
Wild Game Use-What-You-Got Stew
- 2 lbs stew meat from moose, deer, elk, bison, beef…any red meat really
- Salt and pepper
- 1 onion chopped up
- Bacon fat, butter, lard, olive oil
- 2 teaspoons dried thyme
- 2 teaspoons dried rosemary
- 1 bay leaf
- 2 cups broth/water
- ½ cup white or red wine
- 3-4 garlic cloves chopped (or sub 2 teaspoon dried garlic)
- 1 cup chopped celery
- 2 cups chopped carrots
- 1-2 cups chopped parsnips or beets optional, but adds a lovely sweetness
- 4 cups chopped potatoes
- 2 tablespoons flour
- ¼ cup water
- 1-2 oz frozen chopped kale, spinach or other greens
Other delicious optional last minute add-ins:
- A couple cups frozen corn
- A couple cups frozen peas
- Sprinkle your meat with a good dose of salt and pepper. A little heavier than if you were doing it on something you would eat straight as it's going to help season the whole pot.
- If you plan to brown the meat first, either heat your Instant Pot on saute, or a heavy-bottomed pot on medium heat. Add bacon fat, butter, lard or olive oil and brown your meat in 1-2 batches, depending on the size of your pot, as to not crowd your meat. Add in your onions and saute until they’ve got a bit of colour.
- If you dont plan to brown, just add the meat and onions to your pot of choice and proceed.
- If you’re using the Instant Pot, add the thyme, rosemary, bay leaf, broth/water, wine and garlic along with the meat and onions. Put the lid on, set to sealing and cook for 30 minutes on high pressure. Let it naturally release for at least 20 minutes before flipping the vent, doing a quick release can make your meat tough/dry.
- If you’re going to use a slow cooker, add the thyme, rosemary, bay leaf, broth/water, wine and garlic along with the meat and onions. Put the lid on and cook on high for 2-3 hours or low for 4-6 hours.
- If you’re using a Dutch oven in the oven, add the thyme, rosemary, bay leaf, broth/water, wine and garlic along with the meat and onions. Bake at 300F for 2-3 hours.
- After the first time is up, check that your meat is tender. It does not need to be fall apart tender but if it still feels like shoe leather…it should maybe go a bit longer on its own…
- Then add in your celery, carrots, potatoes, and optional parsnips and beets.
- Instant Pot for another 15 minutes...
- Slow cooker for another 2 on high or 3-4 on low...
- or in the oven for another 1-1.5 hours.
- When the time is up, check that your vegetables are fork tender and easily mash if you press a chunk against the side of the pot with a fork.
- If you’d like to add any of the frozen vegetables, do so now. I do it at the end so they maintain their bite and don't become mush. We freeze a lot of chopped kale for soups, stews and smoothies in winter!
- We like our gravy thick in our stew, so this next step is optional, but really quite delicious. Omit or use cornstarch to keep it gluten-free.
- Put the flour and water in a canning jar with a lid, shake it up well, then stir it into the stew. In a slow cooker this needs a bit for it to actually thicken, so I wouldn’t suggest doing it in the slow cooker if you’re in a time crunch. In the Instant Pot, simply turn to saute and let it bubble and thicken. If you’re using a Dutch oven, put it on the stovetop, turn onto medium heat, and let it bubble and thicken.
- Taste your stew, does it need salt? Pepper? Add as needed.
- Serve up, enjoy with recipes such as sourdough biscuits, sourdough drop biscuits, sourdough focaccia, gluten free/dairy-free cornbread or a good ol’ crusty sourdough boule.
- Leftovers keep 3-4 days in the fridge, or freeze for quick meals another day!
Looking for a great serving idea?
- Sourdough Biscuits
- Heavy Cream Sourdough Drop Biscuits
- Sourdough Foccacia
- Skillet Cornbread
- Basic Sourdough Boule
I love this recipe! We have a batch of gamey moose steaks that do well in stew. So yummy.
Highly recommend! I made it with some forgotten in the freezer moose.
Made this with deer so so yummy!
Anne Marie Hofer
Love learning more about sourdough from u. Also just a little jealous of ur 2 milk cows
This is so tasty and easy to throw together. The family loves it!
Love this recipe!
Getting venison soon...so this will be in my Instapot soon!
This is great for our Highland beef too. I love how various cooking tools are referenced in your recipe - IP, crockpot, and oven braising.... awesome.
Yes please!!! So delicious and filling. Very tasty.
Made this yesterday for lunch today. It was so good. I didn't have any wine so I left it out and it wasn't missed. And I have lots leftover for supper for tomorrow's crazy day.
This is a fantastic recipe, easy and delicious. Everyone in the family loves it, not often that happens ?
Always make a double.
I’ve only ever made this with beef. I’d love to have it with wild game.
Made it ...with venison...delicious!
Made this last night with some venison stew meat, and it was unreal. Cooked it in the instant pot and the meat was fall apart tender, my husband couldnt believe how good it was. Followed the instructions and got a nice thick gravy with it. Husband and picky toddler approved. Using the leftovers to make pot pie tonight!
Made this tonight with beef and it was delicious! I love that this recipe specifies all the different cooking vessels. So handy!
I'm so glad you liked it! I have it going now!
A new favorite! I didn't have potatoes or parsnips, but added a little extra of the others and it turned out fantastic. I did it in the dutch oven and needed a little extra water for the veggies, but maybe my oven was on the hot end. It's going in the regular rotation for sure.