Connemara Stew with a Virginia twist

First recipe!

I came into some good Potomac oysters this week and had wanted to do something different so decided on Connemara stew. If you don’t know (I didn’t) its a hearty Irish dish traditionally made with lamb, root vegetables and sometimes oysters. Lamb is expensive but I had venison on hand so used that instead. There really aren’t too many ingredients. Just use fresh mint and parsley and you will get some very good flavor.

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I started out melting butter in a cast iron dutch oven.

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Next sauté onion, celery and garlic.

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I dusted cubed venison with salt and pepper then lightly coated it with flour. Into the pot to brown.

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When the venison is good and brown add white wine. Use your wooden spoon to scrape off any black bits from the bottom of the pan.

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When the wine has cooked down by about half, add the stock, mint and potatoes. Cover loosely and simmer for half an hour.

Store bought chicken stock is fine for this but I’m a believer in using homemade. I save carcasses throughout the year then when I get a 3-4 gallon stock pot full I’ll take a weekend and make stock then freeze it. Not just chicken bones: turkey, duck pheasant and chukar from preserve hunts… you get the picture. You can cook it for half a day, all day or all weekend, just keep adding water and keep the bones submerged. You know its ready when you can bend the bones with a pair of tongs. Also: if you deer hunt save those bones! They make the BEST stock.

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Oysters ready to go!

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When the meat and potatoes are tender, add parsley, lemon zest and oysters. You really don’t need to simmer longer than another 5 minutes. This will incorporate the flavors and firm up the oysters.

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Sorry but the lighting in my kitchen is challenging for good photos.

Anyway serve in a warmed bowl with crusty bread. I actually had green onions cut to top it with but forgot and left them off. Tasty!

Recipe:

2 tablespoons of unsalted butter

1 medium onion diced

5 gloves of garlic, minced

1 stalk of celery, diced

4 medium potatoes cut into 1/2″ cubes

1.5 – 2 lbs your choice of cubed stew meat

1 cup of all purpose flour

1 cup of white wine

2 cups of stock (chicken is fine, I used homemade stock either from venison or wild game birds)

8-10 raw oysters

zest of 1 Lemon

1 tablespoon chopped mint leaves

1 cup of chopped parsley

Salt and Pepper to taste

Crusty bread and chopped green onions or scallions for serving

 

(Optional: I used artichoke hearts in this but carrots, turnips or parsnips would be great)

 

 

 

Maine Grouse Hunting Trip, October 2017

Last year when Felix was still a very young dog I took a grouse trip to Minnesota with him and my older pup, Briar. We had a great time hunting on a friend’s property and saw lots of birds. This year we decided to go to Maine. Specifically¬†Bradford Camps in the North Maine Woods on Lake Munsungan.

Bradford Camps has been in existence since the 1890s. The cabin that I stayed in was built in 1910. Its 50 miles from the nearest paved road, electricity or phone signal. This was a chance to disconnect and concentrate on the dogs. Specifically I wanted to expose Felix to as many wild birds as possible.

In the end both dogs got wild bird contact although mostly Felix. Lots of retrieves on birds which flushed and were shot (okay, not lots, 5). Also had him on point several times. We had planned to hunt 4 days but really ended up with closer to 3. Briar was hurt on the first day and I spent a day taking her to Presque Isle and getting her stitched up. She was fine and bounced back fast.

I did not shoot any birds that Felix bumped or pushed, only birds that I flushed when he was hunting a different area. Likewise I ended up not shooting any of his pointed birds because all of those ended up flushing before I approached. All in all the hunt accomplished what I wanted which was to get him a solid block of time in the woods with fair numbers of wild birds before we started his whoa training in earnest.

I really cant say enough good things about Bradford Camps. Great people, great food and lodging. Really it was a perfect experience and one I hope to repeat.

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Entrance to the North Maine Woods
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Mine and the pups’ cabin for the week.
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View from the front porch
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Moose Track
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First grouse
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View of Munsungan Lake looking SE
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Self Explanatory
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Float Plane to Reed Pond

 

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Forest Reserve at Reed Pond
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Lake Munsungan and Fall colors
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Briar on retrieve.
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Felix on point
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These two are always ready to go!

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