For a warming, savory dish to ward off the damp showers of early spring there is nothing like a rich hearty stew. Simmering the cubes of meat with veggies brings together flavors that melt in your mouth. This is not for a hurry-up-get-dinner-on-the-table meal, but a blending of time and old fashioned goodness. It can cook unattended, mostly, after you pop it in the oven, just make sure the liquid doesn’t totally evaporate, if so add some more stock or water.
Bearly Irish Stew
- 2 lbs. of bear meat cut into 1 ½ inch chunks
- Oil for browning meat, cover bottom of pan (2-3 Tbs.)
- 2 leeks cut into thin slices
- 4 carrots, diced
- 2 ribs of celery, diced,
- 1 large potato, diced
- 1 cup of frozen pea (or fresh if available)
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 sprig fresh thyme (or ¼ tsp. dried)
- 1 bay leaf
- 3 cups chicken or beef stock or broth
- 1 bottle of Guinness stout
Thickener: 2 tbs. flour stirred into 2 Tbsp. melted butter. Stir constantly over medium heat for 2 minutes, set aside.
Preheat oven to 275 degrees. Season meat with salt and pepper. Brown bear chunks in 2 batches in a Dutch oven which has a tight fitting lid, on medium-high heat. Remove meat to bowl. In the same pot add leeks, carrots, celery, and cook for 2-3 mins over medium heat. Add garlic and cook for 1 minute more. Deglaze pan with stock and stir in seasonings and bay leaf. Then the potato. Cover the pot and braise stew 2 hours or until bear meat is tender. Return to the stove top and thicken with flour/butter mixture stirring constantly until thickened about 3-4 mins. Remove thyme sprig and bay leaf, add peas and stir. Let simmer on low until peas are cooked, (about 2 minutes). Ladle into bowls and serve with crusty bread.