Recipe: Make Antonio Prontelli's Venison Stew With Chestnuts and Dried Apricots & Mascarpone Polenta
Seems like everyone is getting into game these days. It's wild, lean, and full of flavor. But cooking it isn't exactly a no-brainer -- the risk of ending up with a tough hunk of meat is high. Chef Antonio Prontelli of Rock Center Cafe avoids this problem with plenty of seasoning and a long, slow cook time. He shares his recipe for Venison Stew with Chestnuts and Dried Apricots, and Mascarpone Polenta, a new dish he's debuting on the Cafe menu in January.
"One of the many reasons why I like this stew is the combination of flavors from the gaminess of the venison balanced by the sweetness of the dried fruits and roasted chestnuts," says the Bronx-born chef. "This stew also reminds of my childhood -- slightly altered with different spices -- when my mother would make a large pot of soft polenta with venison stew."
Venison Stew with Chestnuts and Dried Apricots, and Mascarpone Polenta
2 lbs Denver leg meat, cubed into 1x1-inch pieces salt and pepper, to taste all-purpose flour, for dusting meat 4 cups brown venison stock 1 large parsnip, diced 1 small celery root, diced 1 sweet potato, diced 6 cipollini onions 1/2 cup canned plum tomatoes, crushed 1 cup dry red wine 2/3 cup dried apricots 1/2 lb chestnuts, roasted 1/3 cup dried cranberries spice sachet (wrapped in cheesecloth) including: 3 juniper berries 1/2 tbsp black peppercorns 3 whole allspice 2 star anise 6 sprigs thyme 2 bay leaves
In a large, thick-bottomed pot over medium heat, heat up a little vegetable oil. Season the meat with salt and pepper, and dust lightly with flour. Place the meat in the pot, and brown on all sides. Remove the meat, and set aside. Add the vegetables, spices, and herbs to the pot, and brown. Return the meat to the pot, and deglaze with the red wine. Reduce until thickened. Add the stock, enough to cover the meat and vegetables by about an inch, and season with salt and pepper. Bring the stew to a simmer, and add the dried fruits and chestnuts. Cover and place in a 200-degree oven for 3-4 hours or until fork tender. Remove and adjust seasoning if necessary.
Mascarpone Polenta 1 1/2 cup milk 1/2 cup polenta 2 tbsp butter 3 tbsp grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese 4-5 tbsp mascarpone salt and pepper, to taste
In a small pot on low heat, bring 1 1/2 cups of water and the milk to a simmer. Season with salt and pepper. Whisk in the polenta and cook for 15 minutes very slowly, stirring constantly. Add a little more milk if too thick. Add butter, Parmigiano, and mascarpone, and adjust seasoning, if necessary. Remove from heat, and serve immediately, topped with the venison stew.
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