Taking Stock: Venison Stock

Written for edible Alaska, Recipe by Jed Delong Photos by Bethany Goodrich

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Using the entire animal is a rewarding end to a long and difficult hunt. The trick to delicious home-cooked meals often boils down to a flavorful homemade base and deer bones are ideal for stock. The process is more of an art than a precise recipe. It can be made with a variety of animal bones and ingredients, on the stove top or in a pressure cooker. If you have a pressure cooker tucked away, pull it out. It’s a great option for making stock, especially in Alaska, because many people already own one for canning, you can fit a heap of big messy game bones inside (moose bones anyone?), you can move the mess to the front deck, and you can reduce the cooking time from 6-8 hrs on a traditional stovetop to a mere hour. The only drawback is that your stock will come out a tad bit cloudier. The flavor however, is still lip-licking good.

•    Cleaned venison bones from 1-2 deer (moose or caribou works too)

•    2-3 Onions, whole and rough cut

•    2 lbs carrots

•    One bag of celery

•    Whole head of garlic, smashed cloves

•    Other vegetables as desired: parsnips, leeks, greens, beets

•    Herbs of your choice. Try parsley, basil, cilantro (keep the stems attached!)

•    To add a bit of umami to your stock try adding the rinds of hard cheeses, mushrooms and/or 1 tablespoon fish sauce

•    Roughly 2 Tbs. salt to salt the bones

•    Spices of your choice. We used 1 tbs rosemary and 1 tsp each of black peppercorns, sage, 1/2 tsp of cayenne thyme, anise seeds

•    5 bay leaves

•    2-3 tbs vinegar or apple cider vinegar

•    One beer or 16 oz glass of wine to help deglaze the roasting pan

Salt and oil the animal bones. Roast the bones, smashed garlic, onions (if there’s room) in the oven at 400° F on a large metal pan to catch the leaked juices for about an hour. Spill the juices and the bones into the bottom of your pressure cooker (or pot). You may need to break up some of the larger bones to maximize space and fill the bottom of the cooker. The goal is to use as little water as possible while covering the bones so that the resulting stock is nice and concentrated. Deglaze the roasting pan over the stove using beer or wine to loosen all the delicious roasted juices. Pour this into the pot. Add the remainder of your vegetables, herbs, spices, umami, vinegar, sauce. Hold off on adding any more salt until the very end of the process so you can adequately taste and gauge how much to add (if desired). Add water (about five quarts) to cover the bones.

 

Pressure cook for 60 minutes at 15 lbs of pressure. Could be adjusted for fish (~45 minutes).

Carefully remove the large bones (be sure to nibble on any tasty bits of meat that may have fallen off). Pour the mixture through a sieve into another pot or directly into mason jars. If desired, you can further reduce the mixture over the stove. Let the broth cool and remove the layer of fat. At this point you can taste and add additional salt as desired. Be sure to leave ~ 1 in. top room in the jars to prevent cracking when freezing. The above recipe yields ~ 3.5 quarts and stock should be safe frozen for up to a year.  

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Venison stock makes a great base for all sorts of tasty belly warming winter recipes. Try as a base in soups and stews or a demi-glace in gnocchi. Go wild.