Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Jagdhütte Hirsch Eintopf

     Old Fashioned German Hunting Lodge Venison Stew!
     Traditional western ski lodge cuisine and western hunting lodge cuisine are nearly the same thing.  Both cuisines are hearty, rich tasting and the portion size tends to be large enough to satisfy a big appetite.  The cuisine at mountain resorts in the west tends to have an old wild west theme or the menu is comprised of easy to recognize modern favorites. 
     In the American northeast, ski resorts and hunting lodges usually have a rustic colonial American theme, a rustic hillbilly theme or an Alpine European theme.  In the Pocono Mountains of Pennsylvania, Swiss Chalet ski lodges and German style hunting lodges are common sights.  The cuisine at northeastern mountain resorts is usually a combination of old fashioned German food, popular Eastern European cold weather favorites and standard American fare.    
     At ski resorts that draw a clientele of 18 to 35 year old adults, trendy fad food is often featured on the menu.  Vegetarian entrées, low carbohydrate cuisine and gluten free cuisine are the latest dietary fads.  Those who seek a hip image tend to jump on a fad health food bandwagon, even if the dietary trend is not the best choice from health standpoint.    
     Trendy food often presents viability and feasibility issues, especially at remote mountain resorts.  It is not easy for food purveyors to deliver high quality fresh produce to mountain ski resorts in remote areas and the extra mileage causes fresh produce prices to be sky high.  
     Delivery of produce is often limited to a few days per week, weather permitting.  Fresh produce freezes on trucks that are delayed in mountain regions.  Winter potholes on mountain roads have a way of bruising every fruit and vegetable on the truck.  Highly perishable produce has a very short shelf life to begin with and often the merchandise end up being delivered as damaged goods.  As a result, the shelf life of the produce becomes even shorter and a restaurant's waste percentages cause operational costs to rise.  
     This is why offering highly perishable food items at a remote mountain resort to suit unrealistic consumer demands is not feasible.  The end result is menu prices that are so high, that guests settle for eating a can of cold baked beans in their lodge room.  

    Tradition wins every time when designing menus at remote mountain resorts.  Traditional winter fruits and vegetables that are durable happen to be the best choice.  Root vegetables, hand crafted fruit preserves, dried fruit, rugged greens like kale, sauerkraut, dried mushrooms, Italian canned tomatoes and pickled garden vegetables are examples of durable fruits and vegetables stocked by remote mountain resorts in the old days.  Dried beef, cured meats and smoked fish made up the bulk of the protein inventory.  Dry goods, butter and cheese rounded out the stock.  Usually an enterprising local farmer in the woods delivered eggs.  
     Because the food stock was durable and it had a long shelf life, the waste percentage was very low.  Going the old fashioned route when designing a remote mountain resort menu is a viable solution for reducing operational costs.   
     It takes a good classic cuisine chef to make menu food items that appeal to affluent lodge guests.  This is because many old classic cuisine recipes that are over 100 years old make use of durable food items.  Back in those days chefs did the best they could with what they had on hand.  Often this involved a little extra effort or a little more creativity in the kitchen.  
     For example, fresh berries would have to be shipped from thousands of miles away to a mountain resort in the winter season.  Berry Preserves are the better choice.  Adding Lingonberry Preserves to Beef Tenderloin Tips Bourguignon makes this simple recipe suitable for a king.  This variation of the original Beef Burgundy recipe is still popular in luxurious Alpine chalet resorts.  All it takes is a little classic cuisine know how and a remote mountain resort chef has it made!            
     Modern mountain hunting lodge resorts tend to have an advantage over modern ski resorts for one good reason.  The hunting lodge clientele tends to be steeped in nostalgic tradition and these folks have realistic expectations.  
     Hunting lodge customers usually do not make eccentric demands for micro greens, vine ripe tomatoes and exotic tropical fruit in the middle of winter.  This clientele places a high value on doing things the old fashioned way.  They cherish hand crafted preserves, vegetables that are canned by hand for winter, pickle products and root vegetables.  The hunting lodge clientele sector is basically a hunter gatherer "meat and potatoes" breed that cherishes the last spoonful of strawberry preserves that granny made the previous summer, as if it were a nugget of pure gold!
     Obviously today's old fashioned German hunting lodge venison stew recipe is designed to appeal to traditionalists.  This deer hunter's stew is made with durable winter food items that are not highly perishable.  This venison stew is hearty enough to warm up an icy cold day.  The old fashioned German style flavor is tasty enough to satisfy the gourmands in the crowd.  

     Pearl Onion Preparation:
     This is the best way to prepare pearl onions!
     Boil 2 cups of water in a small sauce pot over high heat.
     Add 10 whole pearl onions.  (Leave the skin on!)
     Boil the pearl onions, till they are blanched al dente.
     Cool the pearl onions under cold running water.
     Minimally trim the root end off of each onion.
     Pinch the skin toward the tapered end, to pop the pearl onion out of the skin. 
     Chill the peeled blanched pearl onions till they are needed.    

     Jagdhütte Hirsch Eintopf:
     This recipe yields 1 large hearty portion!
     In keeping with the old fashioned mountain hunting resort theme of this German style venison stew, no complicated cooking techniques are necessary.  
     For those who do their hunting expeditions in a grocery store, good butcher shops stock wild game meat, because alternative natural meats are currently in high demand.  Venison stew meat usually sells for the same price as high grade beef.  
     Black Currant Preserves can be found in Eastern European food markets.  The Black Currant Preserves that I used to flavor this recipe actually came from the Ukraine.  
     Step 1:  Heat a small stew pot or large sauce pot over medium heat.
     Add 1/2 tablespoon of lard, bacon grease or vegetable oil.
     Add 1 1/2 tablespoons of unsalted butter.
     Add 10 ounces of bite size pieces of venison stewing meat.  (Venison shoulder or leg meat are good stew meat choices.)
     Sauté the venison, till it is thoroughly browned on all sides.
     Step 2:  Add just enough flour, while stirring, to soak up the grease in the pan and to create a roux.  (About 1 1/2 tablespoons of flour.)  The roux should look like a thick shiny liquid and it should not look "caky."
     Stir till the roux emits a very light hazelnut aroma and till it becomes a light blond color.
     Step 3:  Add 1 tablespoon of minced shallot.
     Add 1/4 cup of Imported Italian crushed plum tomato.  
     Add 3 ounces of Riesling Wine.  (Semi Sweet or Dry) 
     Add 1 teaspoon of white wine vinegar. 
     Add 1 cup of beef stock or veal stock.  
     Add enough water to cover the venison with 1" of extra liquid.
     Add 1 laurel leaf.
     Step 4:  Bring the liquid to a gentle boil.
     Reduce the temperature to very low heat.
     Gently simmer the venison stew meat, till it starts to become tender.  Only add water as necessary to keep the venison covered with liquid.  
     *Venison leg and shoulder meat may be fairly tough, so a long simmering time may be necessary.  This is why the acidic ingredients are added first.  It is best to wait till the venison meat starts to become tender before adding the vegetables, so the vegetables do not overcook and become mushy!  
     Step 5:  Add 3/4 cup of peeled golden beets that are cut into 1/4" thick half moon slices. 
     Gently stew for 10 minutes.  Only add water as necessary to keep the ingredients covered with liquid.  (Golden beets are a hard root vegetable and they need a head start.)
     Step 6:  Add 1/3 cup of large diced carrot.
     Add 1/4 cup of 1/4" thick sliced peeled celery.
     Add 3/4 cup of large bite size cube shaped pieces of peeled russet potato.
     Add the reserved peeled pearl onions.
     Step 7:  Add 1 pinch of nutmeg.
     Add sea salt to taste.
     Add 1 pinch of black pepper.
     Add 1/2 tablespoon of green peppercorns that were packed in brine.
     Add 1 small pinch of ground clove. 
     Add 1 pinch of allspice.
     Add 1 small pinch of ground celery seed.
     Add 1 pinch of marjoram.
     Add 1/2 teaspoon of minced Italian Parsley.
     Step 8:  Add 1 tablespoon of Black Currant Preserves while stirring.
     Step 9:  Add enough water to barely cover the ingredients.
     Raise the temperature to medium heat.
     Bring the stew back to a gentle boil.
     Step 10:  Reduce the temperature to low heat. 
     Simmer and reduce till the vegetables are tender and the stewing sauce is a thin sauce consistency that easily clings to the stew ingredients.
     Step 11:  Remove the laurel leaf. 
     Keep the stew warm over very low heat.
     Brush 1 thick slice of soft crust French bread with melted unsalted butter.
     Grill the bread on a griddle over medium/medium low heat, till both sides are toasted.
     Ladle the Jagdhütte Hirsch Eintopf into large shallow stew bowl.
     Place the grilled bread in the stew, so it leans vertically against the rim of the bowl.  
     Garnish with an Italian Parsley sprig.  
     Serve with small ramekin of Black Currant Preserves on the side.  (Stirring a spoonful of preserves into a venison stew at the tables adds a classic Alpine touch!)  

     For those who do some hunting in the chilly mountain air, a steaming hot bowl of German Hunting Lodge Venison Stew is mighty appealing! 

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