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Wild Game Stew with Juniper & Apples

A sturdy wild game stew, that is a Swedish classic. Although, moose is commonly used for this dish, any wild game would work. In North America if moose isn’t at hand, elk, venison (deer) or feral hog would perform well in this dish.  In a hurry, this recipe adapts well to an electric or stove top pressure cooker.

Course Main Course, Stew
Cuisine Swedish
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 2 hours 30 minutes
Total Time 3 hours
Servings 6 portions
Calories 583 kcal
Author Adapted from Liselotte Forslin's "Viltgryta med enbär & äpplen".

Ingredients

The Stew

  • 2.2 pounds (1 kg) Moose or deer stew meat (see note 1), cut in approximately 1" (25mm) pieces.
  • 2-3 tbsp (2-3 msk) Butter, for browning stew meat.
  • 8 oz (225 g) Bacon or pancetta, minced.
  • 2 medium Yellow (brown) onions, finely chopped.
  • 7 oz (200 g) Fresh mushroom, cut in to bite size pieces.
  • 1 tbsp (1 msk) Whole dried Juniper Berries, crushed finely (see note 2).
  • 10 Dried plums (prunes), stone (seed) removed.
  • 2 tbsp (2 msk) Tomato puree, or 1 tbsp of tomato paste.
  • 2 Dried bay leaves.
  • 10 fl oz (3 dl) Red wine of drinking quality, the same you'll serve with the stew.
  • 13.5 fl oz (4 dl) Strong meat stock, preferably, from wild game.
  • Salt and fresh ground pepper, for seasoning.
  • 2-4 tbsp (2-4 msk) Corn starch for thickening, (optional).
  • 1-2 tsp (1-2 tsk) Raw sugar, (optional).

Topping Ingredients

  • 2 medium Apples (Gala or similar), cored and slice in thick slices.
  • 1 tbsp (1 tsk) Butter, for frying.

Instructions

Stew

  1. Begin by tossing your stew meat with a little salt and pepper to season.

  2. Next place your Dutch oven (or braising pot of choice) on your stove top and heat to a medium-high heat.  While heating add butter (or fat of choice) to the pan.  Once the fat is heated, begin browning your stew meat in batches. Don't over crowd the meat.

  3. Once your meat is browned, place it on a plate or in a large bowl and reserve for use later.

  4. Now, add your chopped bacon and cook for about five minutes or until the bacon is rendering it's flavor into the pan.

  5. Toss, in your chopped onions and sauté until soft.  This should take about five minutes.

  6. Add the mushrooms and continue sautéing until the mushrooms begin to soften.

  7. Return the browned meat and give it a good stir.  Now add the crushed juniper berries and stir.  Continue to cook until the juniper berries become aromatic, about 3-5 minutes.

  8. Quickly add the red wine and scrap the goodies from the bottom of the pan.  Continue cooking until the wine is reduced by half.

  9. Once reduced add the stock, tomato puree, dried plums and bay leaves.  Stir until well combined.  Return your pot to a boil, reduce to low and simmer.

  10. If using, place your dampened and oiled cartouche over the top of the stew.

  11. Place the lid on the pot and simmer for 2 hours. (See note 3 regard pressure cooker use)

  12. After the cooking time, remove and discard your cartouche (if using) and stir.  Taste and correct seasoning as required.

  13. At this point you can reduce the liquid to the consistency desired or use the corn starch for thickening.  If using corn starch, mix 2 tablespoons with 2 tablespoons of water in a separate bowl. When thoroughly mixed slowly mix into the stew while stirring.  Cook an additional 15 to 20 minutes.

  14. Once the stew is at the consistency you wish, taste again and if additional seasoning is required, adjust.  Finally, should the stew taste too gamey for your taste, add a teaspoon of raw sugar to the stew.  Stir, cook a minute and taste.  Add an additional teaspoon should you feel it's needed.

Topping

  1. In a sauté heat the butter on medium high and fry apples until soft and browning.
  2. Remove from heat and place on top of the stew when serving or if you prefer, serve on the side.

Recipe Notes

Please note that the quantities can be changed by entering the amount you wish in the quantity indicator.  However, the metric will not change. 

  1. It should also be good with wild boar or feral hog meat. Moose or venison makes a great stew, but one could also use other red meat such as lamb or goat shoulder.
  2. Be sure and mash-up the whole dried juniper berries well with a mortar and pestle or the flat side of the knife. You want them broken down into very small bits.
  3. For an electric pressure cooker (Instant Pot) after browning and sautéing, cook on HP for 35 minutes. For stove top, cook about 40 minutes. Natural release for both methods.
  4. This dish is traditionally served with boiled potatoes and oven roasted carrots on the side. Should you have the joy of finding some fresh (properly identified) forest mushrooms, more the better. If cooking the dish for freezing, we omit the mushrooms as they don’t freeze so well. Instead, when reheating, we sauté up some mushrooms and toss them in the stew. Don’t omit the apples as they really make this dish.