Venison, root vegetable and stout stew… and navigating a camp kitchen

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Our recent trip to NZ had very slight undertones (subtle as a slap in the face with a wet fish) of cooking and/or eating whatever local produce the frozen, undulating, sheep dotted, river covered landscape could offer.

This day we were making our way back to Methven, and the company of our good friends Troppo and Lexi (real names), and we thought it pretty fit that we should cook them a nice hearty, vegetable laden dinner as fresh produce was damn expensive up this way and, well, if there’s one thing you need to be able to afford in this kind of weather it is not fresh vegetables, it is booze – Jesus’s little gift to us to help us stay warm in the cold.

About that dinner.

We finally stumbled on a wee little farmers market in a little sea side town on the east coast, at which one vendor was able to provide us with his home-grown yams, carrots and broccoli, and he was also selling the biggest fricking jerusalem artichokes I’ve ever seen. So big, in fact, I could not even recognise them. When I queried what the name of this strange, palm sized, Anakins-head-when-he-was-crawling-out-of-the-lava looking tuber may have been, the old farmer told me that it was indeed called Jerusalem artichoke and it was grown by another older gentleman up the road (points over shoulder).

“Indeed”, I remarked. “Well I will need to take a couple of those”.

The farmer then packed my produce up for me, I paid him the required toll and we were on our way.

We picked up some Dunedin venison and a bottle of stout from the peeps at Panhead Brewery, and then every item on the shopping list had a nice little tick next to it. We were clearly ready to do some cooking.

You will note my mis en place is in plastic bags. This is so I did not need to carry a box full of crap with me to the camp kitchen where the meal was cooked. “It’s pretty ingenious”, is probably what the other homies in the camp kitchen would have been thinking, and is also no doubt what you would be thinking right now.

Some booze for the stew and some booze for me

There’s those mis en place bags in the camp kitchen

Ready to go… with a big fat side of buttery sautéed cabbage

And a little more booze for me…


NZ VENISON, ROOT VEGETABLE & STOUT STEW

(serves 4)

500g venison shoulder, diced
1 onion, diced kinda chunky
2 carrot, chopped kinda chunky
2 sticks celery, chopped kinda chunky… let’s do all of the vegetables kinda chunky, ay
6 cloves garlic, chopped
2 fist sized Jerusalem artichoke, chopped
6-7 yam, chopped
½ bunch thyme
1 tablespoon green peppercorns
500ml stout
500ml stock or water
Salt to season

Season venison and brown meat over med-high heat.
Add onion, carrot, celery, garlic, thyme, peppercorn bag and cook out for 5 minutes.
Add booze and stock, reduce heat to low and simmer, covered, for 45 minutes. Add artichokes and yam bag and simmer for another hour, or until meat is tender and vegetables are cooked. If the gravy starts to thicken up too much feel free to add a little more moisture in the form of stock or water.
Check seasoning and adjust if necessary.
Serve it up with a side of NZ’s finest booze.

Bangers and mash with Paddy’s Day colcannon and Guinness gravy

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That time there was leftover colcannon and Guinness gravy from St Patricks day so I decided I would put some sausages on the grill with some carrots and turnips and swedes wrapped in foil so that my family may have some kind of bangers and mash for our evening meal.

You may not have any Guinness gravy left… and you probably don’t even know what colcannon is… that’s going to be OK. We’ll make some especially for it because let’s face it, bangers and mash deserves it.

Bangers and mash is good solid comfort food. Please though, do not confuse it for a big warm sausage-y, potato-y food hug – that is something that really shouldn’t exist in writing and/or real life. Case closed.

When you need* to make bangers and mash a good start is getting onto some decent sausages. The snags in the pic were provided by one of our many neighbourhood purveyors of meaty goodness – Cromwell Farms. Also worthy of note is that the herbs that go into said snags also come from the same farm.

With that foundation of good sausage we can build upwards towards the heavens with mashed potato, gravy and some other vegetable of your choosing… although it’s nearly always peas… not today though.

Hey ho, let’s go (defo a Ramones quote).

It was raining but I didn’t even care because I had my Pro Q Excel 20 (R2smoketoo) on the verandah.

Smoky, grilly sausages.

Gravy in the pot, vegetables in the foil packs.

That spread. Effort is pretty low for a pretty high yield of tasty goodness.


BANGERS & MASH (serves 4)

8 thick sausages, grilled or pan fried or baked
salt and pepper
Colcannon, vegetables and Guinness gravy to serve

Cook the sausages and serve with the other things.

I can’t believe I’m trying to write a recipe for this.

COLCANNON (serves 4)

Sauté 2-3 cups of sliced cabbage and ½ sliced onion in butter and a splash of oil until softened and just starting to brown. Season with salt and pepper.

Stir through enough mashed potato for 3 people (I know it says this is for 4 serves though… the sautéed cabbage will make up that extra serve for you… I’ve got your back on this one).

GUINNESS GRAVY

Make gravy exactly like you normally make it.

If you normally use chicken or beef stock you can replace half of that with Guinness.

If you use water and a packet gravy mix you can replace half of your water with Guinness.

Pretty easy.

* Bangers and mash is something that you can need. When you have an itch for bangers and mash, that itch can only be satisfied with bangers and mash. Fact.

Get that business in your face!

Bad-ass many meat gumbo

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This is a beast of a meal that originated from a surplus of leftover cooked meats from weekend catering jobs that were loitering in my refrigerator that I needed/wanted to use… and I had a raging desire to get a bit of variety into the diet of the carnivorous dinosaur I keep as a pet under my back stairs.

It is quite simply the same as my recipe here (because we still have a shit load* of all sorts of varieties of kale taking over the place we once called a garden and they are now petitioning the parliament for cessation from the Commonwealth and acknowledgement of their new sovereign state; Kaleland… I really think they could’ve been a little more creative with the name of their new state but let’s just remember, kale is renowned for being really healthy and shit, not for it’s intellectual capabilities.), but instead of the whatever meat was in the original recipe I subbed in a pile of leftover roasted chicken legs and thighs, roasted lamb shoulder and roasted pork belly.

I am not so stupid that I don’t realise that it’s not every week that one has a few different types of leftover meat hanging around so just so you know what? It is very OK to go out and buy a bit of this meat and a bit of that meat until you feel the T-Rex you have living under the back stairwell will be satiated.

And before you eat it you should douse it with your favourite hot sauce.
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Get on it.
gumbo
*an actual measurement