Thursday, November 4, 2010

The good old days...

In this part of the world, we are close to nature all the time. 
No, we don't live like our pioneers, riding on horseback across mountain ranges, taking days to arrive anywhere.
No. We have modern appliances and up-to-date conveniences. We even have access to world cuisine.

There are days when we hunger for simple days.
We want to rustle up some grub, the way cowboys did on those long journeys to Cheyenne, across  canyons,  rivers and forests. We want to forage in the woods for chanterelles, for lobster mushrooms, for wild fennel. We want to catch a trout in that cold stream and cook it up on the fire.  The meat charred and   falling apart, each piece sucked slowly through our teeth, each and every little bone stopped before  it is swallowed.

People here still hunt for elk, bears, deer.  They stock up their freezers with wild game and freshly caught fish.  They spend their leisure hours  procuring the same food that their ancestors did.  Their spouses and children join them.

They spend days in the woods.

Sometimes they get lost, and cell phones get them rescued.

If you can get elk or bison or deer in your neck of the woods, try them.  Here is a recipe for elk stew that will work well for any wild game.

Ingredients for six servings:

1 lb of elk meat, cut up into small pieces
2T oil or butter
2C combined chopped carrots, celery and onions
2 T Flour
1 C of your favorite red wine  or your favorite beer
1 bundle of mixed herbs, bay leaves, rosemary, thyme, parsley, wild fennel fronds
Salt and pepper to taste

Drench your meat pieces in flour and fry them in a heavy pot until golden brown. Remove and set aside. Saute' the vegetables until soft. Return the meat to the pot, stir in the wine or beer, add the  bundle of herbs, salt and pepper.

Cover with foil and bake  at 325F for two hours.
Discard the herbs.
Serve with mashed potatoes and peas.


Elk is very lean! You may want to add butter to the juices to enrich the taste.


  1. No elk walking the streets of Southern California but the stew sounds delicious. Two weeks ago while walking in Napa, CA we saw some wild fennel and it reminded me of how great it is to cook with basic, foraged ingredients...always feels like a gift from nature!

  2. It sounds like a great stew! We haven't had deer in a while, but on occasion a friend will offer a few packages of elk. Elk steak is the best... a little extra virgin olive oil, fresh garlic, and oh my!

    Do you find chanterelles in your neck of the woods?

  3. Sounds like a delicious stew! I grew up eating wild game from my Dad and brother's hunts. My mother could cook a mean duck and venison sausage gumbo and hunting is still very big in Louisiana.

  4. As a San Diego native until recently, hunting was a foreign concept to me. We don't hunt ourselves, but have many friends here in upstate who do, and I have eaten some wonderfully cooked venison, and even cooked it once myself. If I'm gifted with some again, I will definitely try this recipe.

    So funny, I was a vegetarian for all of my teens and half of my twenties, for tender hearted reasons. Now, I eat all sorts of meat, including wild game. I see it as a realistic solution to the overpopulation of deer we have here, due to the lack of predators (which, as usual, is due to loss of habitat). My how we change as we grow!

  5. Diana, same here! I have good friends who hunt and fish regularly and their connection to nature is real and inescapable.

  6. i've tried elk at relatives' in wyoming -- it is a delicacy that we don't often get in the midwest. this recipe sounds like a wonderful way to enjoy this unusual meat.