Venison, derived from the Latin word Venari, which means to hunt, refers to meat from any game animal, including antelope, elk, moose, wild boar, deer, and even hares. However, to most of us, we use the term venison in reference to deer meat.
While it was initially used to refer to meat from game animals, with the rise in commercial ranching, there has been an increase in pasture-raised deer, and venison has found its way onto restaurant menus and into homes across the country. Over the years, venison has gained widespread acceptance among American diners, bringing forth new recipes.
Venison can be paired with a number of dishes. Similarly, there are various ways you can prepare your venison to bring out its culinary appeal, including but not limited to grilling, roasting, and frying. In this article, we look at how to make venison shank stew by first smoking our venison.
Smoking Your Venison
There are two ways to go about smoking your venison: cured or uncured. Cured venison shanks are made by immersing the shanks in brine or rubbing the cure onto the shank. This requires you to leave the meat for a few days to allow curing.
On the other hand, uncured shanks do not involve adding any cure and are not highly seasoned.
Unlike beef, venison is quite lean and takes less time to cook, so whether cured or not, venison is known for its tenderness. However, since venison shanks are hard and cutting them into manageable sizes can be tough, curing helps improve the texture while adding flavor.
What you need:
- food smoker
- two venison shanks – they can be cooked whole or boneless
Depending on how you like your venison, you can also choose to add more spices when you marinade it. For this venison shank stew, we are going to marinate our venison while smoking for extra flavor and to soften our meat.
Note: While smoking your venison, it’s crucial that you do not leave it in your food smoker for too long to avoid overcooking
- 1/2 tablespoon black pepper
- 1/3 cup olive oil
- 2 tablespoons soy sauce
- 1/3 cup lime juice
- 2 fresh rosemary sprigs
- 4 cloves garlic
- In a bowl, thoroughly mix all the marinade ingredients.
- Apply the mixture to your venison shank and put your meat in a one-gallon zip-lock bag.
- Let it marinate overnight, then remove it and sprinkle the venison shanks with salt.
- After you’re done with marinating, you can now start smoking your venison shank.
- Preheat your food smoker to between 225–240 °F (107–115 °C).
- Place your meat in the smoker and let it smoke for 3–4 hours, depending on how you like your venison done.
- When done, remove the shanks from the food smoker and let them rest.
Preparing the Venison Shank Stew
Venison can be paired with a variety of dishes, including butternut squash, cranberries, and Brussels sprouts, among other vegetables.
How to prepare your stew
These are the ingredients you will need to serve 4–6:
- 2 large carrots, peeled and chopped
- 1 onion, chopped
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 3–4 baby red potatoes cut in half
- 1 tablespoon salt
- 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 2 ribs celery, chopped
- 3 bay leaves
- ½ teaspoon smoked paprika
- 1 teaspoon black pepper
- 1 teaspoon dried thyme
- 4 cloves garlic minced
- 1 teaspoon dried rosemary
- 3 cups venison bone broth
- Heat oil and butter over medium heat.
- Brown, the venison shank pieces on all sides, then transfer to the slow cooker. The browning is meant to help add flavor, allowing the shank to develop a deep meaty color and sweet aroma. It also softens the meat.
- Add your venison bone broth to your meat and let it cook for a few minutes. If you do not have venison broth, you can also use beef stock.
- Gently cook the onion, celery, and carrot until softened.
- To the above, add garlic, herbs, and any other spices you want in your stew. In this case, we add pepper, smoked paprika, bay leaves, dried thyme, and rosemary. You can also choose to add more or fewer spices.
- Cover and let it cook for about four hours.
- Add your red potatoes and let your stew cook for a few more minutes, ensuring not overcook. One of the main reasons the potatoes are added later is to ensure they do not become mushy.
- Serve with some crusty bread.
As we wrap up, while you can cook your venison shank stew without first smoking your shank, smoking helps you spend less time cooking the stew as it softens the meat. It also adds a smoky flavor to your shank. However, you can tweak recipes to fit your goals depending on what you want to achieve.
Interested in learning more about venison? Check the articles below:
How to Smoke the Ultimate Venison Burger
Directions To Smoke Canned Venison
Get the Best Out of Your Hunt: Venison Cuts and Uses
For more great ideas on how to get the most out of your Bradley Smoker, check out the awesome articles on our Bradley Smoker Food Smoking Blog for more tips & tricks.