A couple of months ago, I had a distinct pleasure of being offered an advance copy of Georgia Pellegrini‘s new book, Girl Hunter. This book is a memoir that covers Georgia’s personal journey from the trading floor at Lehman Brothers to a huntswoman and a writer, and some amazing life trajectory that is. Although I don’t spend a whole lot of time reading on a regular basis (little kids can sometimes do that to your brain), I swallowed this one in two days flat because the narrative flows beautfiully, and because, personally, I can relate intimately to some of Georgia’s exact experiences in the field (i.e., while hunting). If you have never hunted and wonder what it feels like, this book does a wonderful job of sharing the inner experience that accompanies the sport. I especially recommend it to the folks who, like Georgia and myself, come from a relatively urban background and care deeply about where their meat comes from and how it is harvested.
When Georgia’s publisher invited me to try one of the several recipes from the book and share it on my blog, I settled on Moroccan Elk Stew (which could also be made with venison), as the combination of red meat, cinnamon and dried fruit in the recipe reminded me of my native Azerbaijan and fit right in with how I cook already. Although I made a couple of enhancements and substitutions along the way due to both habit and necessity, I am pleased to report that the resulting stew was absolutely delectable, and I am so glad to be able to bring it to you today.
Here is what it looks like, and here is the recipe as it appeared in the book, with my own notes in bold:
Moroccan Elk (or Beef, or Venison) Stew
Also try: beef, lamb, bison, venison and other antlered game
- 4 pounds elk shoulder or haunch, cut into cubes - I used venison round (the butt), cut into 1-inch cubes.
- 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
- 4 tablespoons grape seed oil or butter
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon ginger powder - I skipped this
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 2 medium-size onions, roughly chopped
- 4 carrots, peeled and chopped – I cut mine into 1″ sections
- 2 medium-size turnips, peeled and chopped - I skipped the turnips cause I didn’t have any
- 3 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
- 2/3 cup dried apricots
- 2/3 cup prunes, pitted – I didn’t have either prunes or apricots on hand so I went with raisins instead, but do use prunes and apricots if you can find them – they are absolutely delicious in meat dishes – especially prunes.
- 3 to 4 cups beef or antlered game stock - I used 50/50 beef stock and Merlot, and added enough liquid to nearly cover the contents of the pot.
- I also added 2 T tomato paste and approximately 1 C boiled, peeled chestnuts from a local farm
1. Heat a large, heavy-bottomed pot with oil. In a bowl, toss the elk cubes in the flour. Shake the cubes well and place them in the pot in batches, being sure not to crowd them. Brown them on all sides and transfer to a plate or rack.
2. Add more oil into the pot and add the onions and the carrots, cooking until the onions are translucent and have begun to brown. Now add the garlic and saute for another couple of minutes.
3. Put all of the browned meat back in the pan with the vegetables and sprinkle with the salt, cinnamon, ginger and pepper. Add dried fruit and stir in tomato paste. Pour in enough stock for the meat to be three-quarters covered (I had mine covered almost entirely), and bring it to a boil. Lower the heat so the bubbles percolate. Cover and simmer gently for 2 hours, or until tender.
4. Add boiled, peeled chestnuts to the finished stew (I didn’t want to cook them together with everything for a couple of hours out of the fear of them becoming mushy).
And that’s it!
If you’ve got a moment, check out the official Girl Hunter book trailer here: