Martini Stew

venison or beef stew with gin vermouth

If you love a martini, you’ll love this stew. Why? Juniper is the essential flavor in gin, and it marries perfectly with venison here in this winter stew. Vermouth will help mellow any gaminess from the venison. If beef is more readily available to you, try the recipe with chuck roast instead. Wait until the next day to eat this--stew is always best a day or two later, after the flavors have melded together.

Serves 6-8

  • 3pounds venison shoulder or stew meat (or beef chuck roast), in 2-inch pieces
  • 14cup canola oil
  • 112teaspoons fine sea salt
  • 13cup dry vermouth
  • 12cup gin*
  • 1tablespoon juniper berries (about 30 berries), coarsely smashed in a mortar and pestle or by knife
  • 4large leeks, white and light green parts only, cleaned and sliced
  • 4canned Italian plum tomatoes, drained and roughly chopped
  • 4medium carrots, sliced in thick coins
  • 2ribs celery, roughly chopped
  • 3bay leaves
  • 3sage leaves, chopped, plus more for garnish
  • sea salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
  • chopped parsley, for garnish
  • *alcoholic beverages distilled from gluten-containing grains are technically gluten-free but some may still have a reaction.
  • Heat a large sauté pan over medium heat. Pour vermouth into a medium bowl, set aside. Toss the venison in a bowl with 2 tablespoon canola oil, season generously with 112 teaspoons salt.
  • 2
  • Brown the meat in three single layer batches, turning to brown all sides, about 10 minutes per batch. Transfer the browned meat to the bowl of vermouth. After browning each batch, remove pan from stove, carefully add 13 of the gin to the pan (careful--it may flame up!) and scrape the bits from the bottom. Add a couple of tablespoons of water if the gin evaporates too quickly to help get the bits off of the bottom of the pan. Add drippings to the bowl of meat and vermouth, toss to coat. Reheat sauté pan and repeat with remaining meat and gin.
  • 3
  • Meanwhile, heat a large heavy dutch oven over medium heat. Add remaining oil to pan, then add leeks. Toss the leeks to coat with oil. Cook, covered, for 5 minutes. Remove cover and continue to cook until soft and translucent, stirring occasionally, about 20 minutes. Add remaining ingredients as well as meat, vermouth, and drippings.
  • 4
  • Cover, bring the pot to a simmer, turn heat to low. Simmer until tender, stirring occasionally, 2-3 hours, until the meat breaks apart easily with a fork. Let cool completely then refrigerate overnight. Reheat just before serving, remove bay leaves, add salt and pepper to taste. Garnish with chopped parsley and additional chopped sage. Serve with corn polenta, rice polenta, or roasted or boiled potatoes.