The juniper berries bring up the flavour of the venison and make this dish the ultimate winter comfort food that is very nutrient dense and macro friendly.
I love a good stew and only recently realised how much my body likes them too. I’ve always been a bit funny with the temperature of food and drinks (to the point that I sometimes heat up water or mix in boiling and cold water to be able to drink it). Cold drinks hurt my throat, and I’ve always noted that cause I lose my voice afterwards, but I hadn’t made the connection between warm food and my digestion until a couple of months ago. I mean, in winter everyone wants soups and hot food, but I just didn’t know why it was that I wanted them and now that I am more connected to my body I realised that I digest warm foods better than I digest cold food, particularly in winter.
So since this discovery I’ve been making sure I regularly cook up stews, soups, roasts and casseroles than I can also easily bring in to work (so a little bit on the thicker side to prevent it from leaking in my bag – yep, I’m talking from experience here).
Since we are in game season I’ve been buying venison, pheasant and partridge meat quite regularly. Luckily, living in England, game is easy to find and it comes from wild animals that are free to roam in the British countryside, so not only is local but also nutrient dense meat, free of hormones and antibiotics and very high in protein.
I know some people have a hard time eating game because of the intense flavour. It took me a while to get used to the taste of pheasant in particular, as it looks like chicken but the taste is quite different. However, I find venison meat very easy to introduce as a new food for anyone that has not tried before and it’s easy to cook with despite of its character. This stew recipe enhances the flavour of the venison meat without masking it. The juniper berries and bay leave give a sweet and aromatic feel to the meat that otherwise is quite strong.
If you are still wondering what juniper berries taste like, the one word to describe it’s: gin! They are most commonly used to flavour gin but they go great with game meats and pork, trust me on this 😉
This stew is naturally gluten-free, low carb and macro friendly, as the sides you have with it will really dictate the amount of fat and carbs you want to eat as part of your meal. I enjoyed as a dinner served with some cauliflower mash whipped with goats butter for a keto version, but you can use potatoes instead to accommodate your macronutrient needs. I normally also bring the leftovers for lunch in a box that I fill up with cauliflower and a green leave like kale. Them I heat up the stew and cauliflower in the microwave and mix in the kale leaves to have a warm salad for lunch.
Venison stew with juniper berries recipe
Servings: 4 | Preparation time: 10 min | Cooking time: 40 min
- 500 g – diced venison
- 2 – celery stalks
- 2 – carrots
- 1 – onion
- 4 – garlic cloves
- 1/2 tbsp – juniper berries
- 1/2 tsp – dry fennel seeds
- 2 – bay leaves
- 1/2 cup – red wine (broth, water or alcohol free wine for paleo/alcohol free version)
- 1 cup – water
- 1/2 tbsp – balsamic vinegar or sherry vinegar
- 1 tsp – salt
- 1/2 tsp – pepper
- 1 tbsp – preferred cooking oil/fat (I used Ossa beef tallow)
- * (Optional) 1 tbsp – tapioca starch
- Dice the celery and carrots and chop the onion and garlic.
- Put your preferred cooking fat or oil at the bottom of the pressure cooker and leave it to heat up.
- Add the onions and sauté until translucent. Then add the garlic and sautee for 1 min. Move the mix to one side of the pot.
- Add the venison to the empty side making sure the pot is greasy enough to prevent the meat from sticking.
- Add salt and pepper and sauté until the venison is lightly cooked on all sides.
- In the meantime grind the juniper berries until a coarse consistency (it will look like ground pepper). You can do so by hand using a mortar or I prefer to use my vase blender (a food processor or coffee grinder would work too).
- Add the ground berries and fennel seeds to the pot. Mix well with the venison and onions.
- Then pour the wine, water and balsamic vinegar. Add the carrots, celery and bay leaves.
- Close the pressure cooker and bring to high pressure. Let it cook for 30 min. Then turn off the heat and let the pot sit for a further 10 min. Some of the pressure will start releasing.
- After that time manually release the rest of the pressure. Open and enjoy!
- *(Optional) If you like a thicker consistency you can add the tapioca starch at this point and whilst still in the pot. Turn on the hob again, add the tapioca and stir well until the sauce thickens and reduces (3-4min).