Pheasant Stew

Just about every culture has its own version of hunter’s stew. In Poland, it’s called bigos. If you travel to France’s Alsace’s region, it might be called choucroute garnie. A German might say Jager-Eintopf. And Vadas Hus is what it’s known as in Hungary.

Regardless of what it’s called, hunter’s stew  is a dish that’s been around as long as humans have been pursuing wild game. And that’s a long time.

Today, hunter’s stew is just as popular as it was back in the Stone Age and beyond. Perhaps it’s because it’s so tasty.

Many a time have I overheard people in this neck of the woods talking about their culinary exploits with entrees such as venison stew.

We often have stews that feature the meat of wild animals such as deer, elk and bison. Most recently, I threw together a pheasant stew recipe for an upcoming hunting trip to Colorado. I used about a dozen legs and thighs from some frozen ringnecks that were harvested last fall that needed to be eaten before the upcoming season.

The stew recipe, which follows, has a couple of twists. It calls for a cup of spicy tomato salsa as well as a can of whole-kernel corn.

Pheasant Stew
3 14 ounce-cans chicken broth
½ pounds pheasants
1 cup onion, diced
1½ cups potatoes, diced to ½- to ¾-inch
1 cup celery, diced
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon garlic powder
½ teaspoon pepper
2 cups carrots, sliced
1 14- to 15-ounce can whole-kernel corn, drained
1 8-ounce can tomato sauce
1 cup spicy tomato salsa
1 3- to 3½-ounce can green chilies, chopped, do not drain
¼ cup fresh cilantro, chopped
Remove all skin and any visible fat before cooking.
Bring the broth to a boil in a 4½- to 5-quart Dutch oven. Add pheasant, onion, celery, salt, garlic powder and pepper. Cover and cook over medium-low heat for 60 minutes or until pheasant is tender.
Remove pheasant with slotted spoon. Let cool.
Add potatoes, carrots, corn, tomato sauce, salsa, undrained chilies, and cilantro to Dutch oven. Cover and cook for 20 minutes until the vegetables are almost tender.
Cut pheasant from the bones and add to the stew.
This can be thickened and dumplings put on top for a main dish.
Note: I substituted pheasant broth for chicken broth.
Yield: Serves 6.
Approximate nutritional analysis per serving: 384 calories, 30 percent of calories from fat, 12.8 grams fat (3.5 grams saturated), 80.5 milligrams cholesterol, 1,817.3 milligrams sodium, 33.8 grams carbohydrates, 5.7 grams dietary fiber, 9.7 grams sugars, 35 grams protein.

Seafood Brodetto

A lot of recipes for fish soups and stews can trace their origins to the coastal areas of Italy where seafood reigns. One such dish is cioppino, the pride of many find California restaurants, which was derived from an fish soup called ciuppin, from the province of Liguria, an important fishing area on the Italian Riviera.

(Cookbooks from Italy describe ciuppin as a rustic relative of bouillabaisse — minus the saffron, Provencal herbs and Pernod.)

Another such seafood recipe that’s caught my fancy recently is brodetto. I had the Olive Garden’s version of it the other night and it very delicious. (Olive Garden describes it as scallops, shrimp and delicate tilapia with spinach and mushrooms simmered in a light white wine and marinara-saffron broth.) The stew was served with toasted ciabatta bread.

Almost all brodetto recipes feature a tomato base and a lot of seafood. Upon doing some research, I discovered one of the oldest recipes for brodetto comes from the Le Marche town of Ancona and calls for 13 different types of fish.

Here’s a brodetto, though not as elaborate as the Le Marche version, which I may have to try.

Seafood Brodetto
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
1 onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 8-ounce can of tomato sauce
1/6 cup vinegar
1 cup white wine
1 cup boiling water
1 tablespoons tomato paste
1 tablespoon fresh parsley
Salt and pepper to taste
½ pound tilapia, cut into 1 inch pieces
½ pound scallops
½ pound shrimp
In a large stockpot, heat the olive oil over medium heat.  Add the onions and garlic and cook for about 3 to 4 minutes or until the onion is translucent.
To the pot, add the tomato sauce, vinegar, wine, water, tomato paste, and parsley. Adjust seasonings with salt and pepper.  Let the mixture come to a boil to burn off the alcohol from the wine.  Return to a simmer, cover, and cook about 30 minutes.
Add the fish, followed by the scallops and shrimp.  Cover and continue to simmer for another 30 minutes.  If you are using pre-cooked shrimp, don’t add the shrimp until the last 5 minutes or so.  You want the shrimp to meld with the other flavors, but not overcook.  Serve hot.
Yield: Serves 3 to 4.

Birthday Burgundy Oven Stew

Part of the fun about having an interest in cooking and food is sharing recipes. Getting a recipe from a friend is one of the most cherished gifts a person can receive. That sentiment is shared by the most experienced restaurant chefs to the little old grannies across the world.

I’ve been fortunate to receive recipes from two friends this week. I’ve already shared one — Paul Hornung stew — with readers, and today, I’m going to pass on the other.

This recipe, too, is for a beef stew. It comes from a former co-worker of mine, Steve Schmidt, who’s gave up a journalism career in favor of teaching Spanish.

Steve, who now lives in suburban Atlanta, a few weeks ago sent me his recipe for Birthday Burgundy Oven Stew, which I’m contemplating to make this weekend. Steve’s stew contains all the ingredients for the classic hearty French dish, including beef, onions and carrots, made rich with Burgundy wine.

Birthday Burgundy Oven Stew
4 pounds beef chuck or pot roast or beef round, cut into 1-inch cubes
4 cups sliced carrots
2 cups sliced celery
4 medium onions, sliced
2 5-ounce cans water chestnuts, drained
2 6-ounce cans sliced mushrooms, drained (or fresh ones)
¼ cup plus 2 tablespoons flour
2 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon salt (or more to taste)
2 14- to 16-ounce cans tomatoes
2 cups Burgundy wine (see note)
Heat oven to 325 degrees.  In roasting pan or two Dutch ovens, mix meat, carrots, celery, onions, water chestnuts and mushrooms. Mix flour, sugar and salt; stir into meat mixture. Stir in tomatoes and Burgundy.  Cover; bake four hours or until meat is tender.
Note: 2 cups of beef broth or stock or 2 cups water plus 2 tspns of instant beef bouillon can be subbed for the Burgundy.
Yield: Serves 12.

Paul Hornung Stew

There are a number of foods that people associate with comfort. Most of them provide an easy-to-eat, easy-to-digest meal rich in calories, nutrients or both. And then, there are those have a sentimental or nostalgic element to them.

Terry Waite of East Grand Forks reminded me of the latter the other day when he mentioned a stew that he likes to make. It’s called Paul Hornung Stew, named after the star running back and Hall-of-Famer with the Green Bay Packers in the late 1950s and 1960s.

Terry told me he got the recipe from an aunt of his but didn’t know where she got it.  He said she used to make the stew and send it to the fire station with his uncle. And the guys there loved it.  It makes a lot of stew, he said, but it freezes well.

I did a bit of research on the Internet and found some reference to the stew but couldn’t pinpoint the origin. All the recipes were exactly the same as the one I got from Terry with one exception. They all contained a tablespoon of sugar.

Paul Hornung Stew
2 pounds beef stew meat cut into 1-inch pieces
1 cup of diced celery (see note)
4 or 5 carrots
4 or 5 potatoes
½ bag frozen peas which I add the last hour
1 slice of bread crumbs
1 small onion
1 28-ounce can whole tomatoes
1/4 cup of tapioca
Salt and pepper to taste
Worcestershire sauce
Brown the stew meat in Worcestershire sauce Put in a Dutch oven with remaining ingredients. Cover and put in oven preheated to 325 degrees. Cook for about 5 to 6 hours, stirring occasionally. It makes its own gravy.
Serve with salad, rolls or both.
Note: You can substitute very small rutabaga, cubed or diced, for celery.

Chicken Stew

It’s hard to beat a hearty stew when it comes to comfort food. And with winter just around the corner, there aren’t many better dishes to dive into on a cold winter’s night.

When most people think about stew, beef usually comes to mind. I know that’s the way it is for me. But the recent chicken stew we had recently just may make me change my opinion about that.

We had a pile of leftover smoked chicken in the refrigerator the other day, so I went in search of a stew recipe. And what I found compares favorably with any of the beef or venison stew recipes we’ve tried over the years.

An interesting ingredient in this chicken stew is rutabaga, one of my favorite veggies. The yellow root vegetable is a staple in my homemade vegetable beef soup, but I’ve never considered in a stew. The stew also contains corn, peas, potatoes and carrots, but it’s the rutabaga that sets this dish apart from other recipes.

Chicken Stew
1 roasting chicken, about 4 to 5 pounds, cut up
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1½ cups water
½ cup sherry or broth
2 teaspoons salt
½ teaspoon pepper
8 to 10 small white onions, halved
1 cup fresh or frozen green peas
1 cup sliced carrots
½ cup diced turnip or rutabaga
1 cup diced potatoes
½ cup fresh or frozen corn
1/3 cup flour mixed with ½ cup cool water to form a paste
Heat the oil in a Dutch oven or heavy pot. Add the chicken pieces; brown on all sides. Add water, sherry, salt and pepper. Cover and simmer for about 45 minutes.
Add onions, peas, carrots, turnip, potatoes and corn; cover and simmer for another 35 to 45 minutes.
Stir in the flour and water mixture; continue cooking until stew is thickened, about 10 minutes. Serve over rice, if desired.
Yield: Serves 6.

French Vegetable Stew

Ask anyone over the age of 40 what kind food they grew up eating, and you’ll more than likely get this answer: meat and potatoes.

On the other hand, a majority of 20- and 30-somethings probably will say fruit, vegetables and a little meat. And some of them will say they are vegans or vegetarians.

I’m in the over-40 age group, so you know what my answer would be. But as I get older, my penchant for meat at every meal has gone the way of my hair: There’s still some there, but it’s less and less every day.

There are a couple of reasons why I’ve cut back on my meat consumption. And they’re both health-related. Meat contains cholesterol. And since my cholesterol numbers are borderline high, anything I can do to keep those in check means a better quality of life. And second, it’s helped me keep my weight down.

In the past couple of weeks, I’ve come across a couple of meatless recipes that are as good as any their meat-laden cousins contain. I wrote about a Roasted Vegetable Lasagna in this space in mid-September. It was better than any meat lasagna I’ve sampled.

And the following French Vegetable Stew recipe, which I just finished making, compares favorably with any beef or venison stew that’s crossed my palate.

French Vegetable Stew
2 teaspoons olive oil
2½ cups chopped onion
4 large garlic cloves, minced
2 teaspoons ground fennel (she uses a coffee grinder to grind fennel seed)
4 medium potatoes, cubed
1 28-ounce can diced tomatoes, undrained
About ¾ cup white wine, divided
2 cups peeled carrot chunks
1 15-ounce can Great Northern or other white beans, drained and rinsed
1½ cups frozen peas
Pinch or two of kosher salt
Warm the olive oil in a soup pot. Add the leeks, garlic, fennel and a pinch of salt. Cover and cook for 10 minutes on medium-low heat, stirring occasionally. During that time, the liquid will start to caramelize, so use a splash of white wine to deglaze the pan.
Add the potatoes and tomatoes, stir, and cover. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer 10 minutes. Add carrots, cover, and gently simmer until the vegetables are tender. (The cooking time will vary depending on how small you cut the vegetables).
Add the beans, peas and ½ cup of wine and stir gently for 2 to 3 minutes until the stew is thoroughly hot and beans and peas have softened.

Pheasant Stew

If you’re a hunter like me, it’s that time of the year to start going through the freezer, looking to make room for the new season’s bounty. And with opening day for a couple of species less than a month way, I’m pulling game out of cold storage a couple of times a week.

And like a lot of people, I’m on the lookout for some new recipes. That’s why I was so happy when co-worker Brad Dokken, the Herald’s outdoor editor, passed on a link that had a wonderful pheasant stew recipe on it. It came from Greg Breining, a Pheasants Forever member and author from Minnesota who adapted what he calls the “best pheasant recipe I’ve tried” from a traditional Hungarian recipe.

Here it is for those of you who may have a ringneck or two lurking in the freezer.

Pheasant Pörkölt
1 pheasant (1 pound or a bit more) cut in thin slices
¼ cup flour
Olive oil
1½ cups chopped onion
4 tablespoons paprika
2 cloves (or more) garlic
Salt and fresh-ground pepper to taste
1 to 2 tablespoons (or more) caraway seeds
1 cup chopped sweet peppers
½ cup fresh seeded tomatoes
Approximately 1 cup stock (water, V8 juice and chicken bouillon)
Lightly pound the pheasant with a meat hammer. Dredge in flour and lightly fry in olive oil. Toss slices in big pot.
Saute the chopped onions, garlic and sweet peppers. Mix in the paprika and saute it until the red color dulls, but don’t burn it. Add the stock, and season with the salt and pepper. When this mixture boils, pour it over the meat slices in the big pot. Heat the pot to a low simmer (meat should reach only about 160 degrees) and then turn off.
Serve over German-style egg noodles.

Old-Time Beef Stew

We have four freezers in our basement. None of them are the king-size chest variety, but regardless, they hold a lot of food. I always keep my fingers crossed that we don’t have a power outage like we did in 1997.

The other day, when I was going through one of them looking for some pheasant legs and thighs, a vacuumed-sealed package of elk meat caught my attention. The backstraps were from 2009 but being sealed and not allowing in any air, there was no freezer burn. I immediately starting thinking of ways to use the meat.

So today, I decided to make some stew. Actually, Therese and I tag-teamed it. She cooked the meat in our pressure cooker while I cut up vegetables.

When the meat was done, we added the vegetables and some spices that were listed among the ingredients in a recipe I found in Therese’s “Better Homes and Garden” cookbook. We used one vegetable that wasn’t included in the recipe, celery. Therese calls it her “secret ingredient.”

Here is the “BHG” recipe. Give it a try. I think you’ll like.  And don’t forget the celery!

Old-Time Beef Stew
2 pounds beef stew meat, cut in 1½ inch cubes
2 tablespoons shortening or oil
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1 clove garlic
1 medium onion, sliced
1 or 2 bay leaves
1 tablespoon salt
1 teaspoon sugar
½ teaspoon paprika
¼ teaspoon pepper
Dash ground allspice or cloves
6 carrots, pared and quartered
4 potatoes, pared and quartered
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
In Dutch oven, thoroughly brown meat in 2 tablespoons hot shortening, turning often. Add 2 cups water and next 9 ingredients. Cover; simmer for 1½ hours, stirring occasionally to keep from sticking. Remove bay leaves and garlic. Add vegetables. Cover and cook 30 to 45 minutes or until vegetables are tender.
Slowly blend 1/3 cup cold water into the 3 tablespoons flour. Stir slowly into hot stew mixture. Cook and stir until bubbly. Cook and stir 3 minutes longer. Serve stew in bowls.
Yield: Serves 6 to 8.

Chicken Stew — African-Style

One of the foods to watch in 2011, according to The Food Channel ( is sweet potatoes, a vegetable that’s very familiar to me. We try to have the tasty and nutritious tuber at least a couple of times a month.

So, it was with interest that I saw that African Chicken Peanut Stew was going to be on the menu at Dakota Harvest Bakers in Grand Forks this month. Sweet potatoes are one of the ingredients in the stew, which also includes chicken, of course, and tomatoes, onions, garlic and ginger in a rich peanut base seasoned with coriander and a touch of cayenne.

Since I had about 3 or 4 pounds of leftover chicken in the refrigerator from a meal we had the other night, it crossed my mind that we should try our own version of the stew, which is, in various forms, common all over West Africa. So, I went in search of a recipe and came up with the following. It contains almost all of the ingredients that are listed in the bakery’s stew.

African Chicken Peanut Stew
2 to 3 pounds chicken legs, thighs and/or wings
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 large yellow or white onion, sliced
3-inch piece of ginger, peeled and minced
6 to 8 garlic cloves, chopped roughly
2 to 3 pounds sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks
1 15-ounce can of crushed tomatoes
1 quart chicken stock
1 cup peanut butter
1 cup roasted peanuts
1 tablespoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon cayenne, or to taste
Salt and black pepper
½ cup of chopped cilantro
Heat the vegetable oil in a large soup pot set over medium-high heat. Salt the chicken pieces well, pat them dry and brown them in the oil. Don’t crowd the pot, so do this in batches. Set the chicken pieces aside as they brown.
Saute the onions in the oil for 3 to 4 minutes, stirring often and scraping any browned bits off the bottom of the pot. Add the ginger and garlic and sauté another 1 to 2 minutes, then add the sweet potatoes and stir well to combine.
Add the chicken, chicken broth, crushed tomatoes, peanut butter, peanuts, coriander and cayenne and stir well to combine. Bring to a simmer and taste for salt, adding more if needed. Cover the pot and simmer gently for 90 minutes (check after an hour), or until the chicken meat easily falls off the bone and the sweet potatoes are tender.
Remove the chicken pieces and set them in a bowl to cool, until cool enough to touch. Remove and discard the skin if you want, or chop it and put it back into the pot. Shred the meat off the bones and put the meat back in the pot.
Adjust the seasonings for salt and cayenne, then add as much black pepper as you think you can stand — the stew should be peppery. Stir in the cilantro and serve by itself, or with simple steamed rice.
Yield: Serves 6 to 8.

Hearty Slow Cooker Beef Stew

I grew up eating Land O’Lakes products. In fact, my mom still swears by the butter made by the St. Paul-based company for her baking needs. And with the holidays almost upon us, there will be a lot of baking going on in many homes across the country.

But baking recipes aren’t the only ones that Land O’Lakes knows something about. If you go to the company’s website (, you can find more than 3,000 time-tested recipes for main courses and other dishes as well as LOL’s Test Kitchen experts’ tips and techniques, baking glossary and ingredient substitution guide.

You can sample recipes for dishes such as Raspberry Almond Thumbprints, Best Ever Butter Cookies, Microwave Fudge, Breakfast Casserole and Stovetop Macaroni and Cheese. Or one that caught my eye for a beef stew that you can make in a slow cooker.

Hoisin sauce gives the stew an Oriental twist. And I’m thinking that you could substitute just about any kind of meat, including wild game such as venison, elk or buffalo, which should make the recipe appealing to hunters and nonhunters alike.

Hearty Slow Cooker Beef Stew
2 tablespoons butter
¾ pound beef stew meat, cut into bite-sized pieces
1½ teaspoons finely chopped fresh garlic
1 small (1¼ cups) sweet potato, cut into ¾-inch pieces
1 medium parsnip, peeled, sliced
½ pound baby Yukon Gold potatoes, cut into 1-inch pieces
1 14½-ounce can diced tomatoes
1 14-ounce can beef broth
1/3 cup hoisin sauce
1 teaspoon dried thyme leaves
Melt butter in 10-inch skillet until sizzling; add beef and garlic. Cook over medium-high heat until beef is browned (4 to 5 minutes); drain off fat. Place browned beef and all remaining ingredients in slow cooker. Stir to mix well. Cover; cook on Low heat setting for 8 to 9 hours or until beef is tender.
Yield: Serves 4 (2 cup each).