I know there are a lot of you out there that probably don't have access to wild game. If you don't hunt, don't know someone who hunts, or don't live near a specialty grocery store, you're probably out of luck. You can certainly make this dish with beef, and it will be delicious, but it won't be the same. Wild game has a distinctive flavor. Often, folks refer to this as "gaminess", but they are usually misspeaking, as I discussed in a post about baked rabbit.
I adore wild game. Elk is my favorite, but since I left the moutainous west almost eight years ago, I haven't had much opportunity to cook with it. Venison, on the other hand, actually got easier to have around once I married. I hunted venison before I got married, but having the time and resources made it a haphazard affair. Fortunately, I married into venison! I know, that sounds weird, doesn't it? Funny thing, though, my brother-in-law, who is a big hunter, tied the knot with a vegetarian. It's definitely been a good thing for me. I've had a non-stop stock of venison ever since.
While I cook all kinds of venison dishes, this is my favorite "quick" dish (as opposed to roasts, and such). The boldness of the Cabernet stands up to and accentuates the flavor of the meat and creates a delicious sauce to boot. I've served it over a number of things, but pasta is my favorite. Bow ties look beautiful and are a chewy and satisfying partner to this dish.
Yield: 4 servings
1 lb small cubes of venison chops, steaks, or tenderloin
1 TBS vegetable oil
1/3 cup sliced shallots
2 large cloves garlic, minced
2 cups quartered mushrooms
1 tsp fresh thyme, minced
1 cup beef broth
3 TBS cornstarch
1 cup Cabernet wine
salt & pepper to taste
Heat the oil in a dutch oven or stock pot over medium-high heat. Add the meat pieces and brown on all sides. Depending on the size of your pot, you may need to brown the meat in batches. If the pieces don't have enough leg room in the pan they will steam instead of brown. Remove the meat and set aside.
If necessary, add another drizzle of oil to the pan. Reduce the heat to medium and add the shallots, mushrooms, garlic, and thyme. Cook until browned and soft. Deglaze the pan with the beef broth. Return the meat to the pan. Mix the wine and cornstarch until there are no lumps and add to the pan, stirring to mix everything together. Bring to a simmer and cook for twenty minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste. Serve over pasta or potatoes.