I recently wrote about a stew that my son, Tom, and his wife, Lisa, brought to the farm. The heavenly combo of root vegetables was from a recipe they wormed from the chef at Blackberry Farms. (More on the Kentucky resort next month after I have a brief stay.)
When I decided to replicate the recipe my kids had made, I went in search of the needed ingredients. You can tell this is a Southern dish, when it calls for such things as parsnips, turnips, hominy, and rutabagas. Now, I’ve never cooked a rutabaga before in my life! It looks a lot like a turnip, in fact, the Irish simply call it that.
There were a few rutabagas coated in a waxy substance, lurking behind the turnips in the produce section. I picked up one. Good heavens. . . it was as big as a soft ball and hard as a rock! I had to bake the one I bought for a half hour before I could get a knife through it.
A Few French Terms
If you’re still with me after the rutabaga episode, don’t let the French words in this recipe scare you off.
Bouquet garni (bo-KAY gar-NEE) is just a few herbs tied together and thrown in the pot. For a sachet d’épices (sa-SHAY DAY-pees), fresh herbs are placed in a square of cheesecloth that’s tied to form a little sack before going into the mixture. I added rosemary, thyme, sage, peppercorns, garlic, and parsley to a 6″ square and tied it with butcher’s twine and let it bob around for a couple of hours.Then I gave the bag a final squeeze before discarding it.
The other French term, potato mousseline, is simply potatoes enlivened with butter and cream. In this instance, a dollop goes atop the serving bowl, for a familiar taste and smooth texture.
Since this recipe came to Tom and Lisa in “chef’s language”—a dash of this, a half gallon of that—I tried to make it more home-kitchen friendly. When I made it, I used a beef chuck roast. (Though I must admit, I thought it was better with the venison.)
I halved the recipe and still had a huge amount. Next time, I would add slightly more tomato paste (for color) and perhaps more carrots. To save time, I didn’t roast the potatoes; I boiled and then mashed them. There’s lots of broth, which is all the better to soak up a slab of cornbread. I didn’t want to waste a drop, so I froze the leftovers.
Blackberry Farms Stew
- 4 lbs. venison, medium diced chunks (I used beef chuck roast)
- 2 Vidalia onions, medium diced
- Apple cider vinegar, dash
- Kosher salt
- 1-1/2 gallons chicken stock
- 4 cups carrots, cut on diagonal
- 4 cups parsnips, cut on diagonal
- 2 cups, turnips. medium diced
- 2 cups rutabagas, medium diced
- 8 Tbs. tomato paste
- ½ bottle red wine
- 3 cups gold hominy, about 2 cans, drained
In a very hot stock pot, add venison chunks and sear till golden brown. Add vegetables and and cook for 5 minutes. Spoon in tomato paste and continue cooking to caramelize the paste. Deglaze with red wine and cook to reduce the wine by 25%. Add stock along with a sachet of herbs (rosemary, thyme, sage, peppercorns, garlic, and parsley) tied in a small cheesecloth bundle. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and let simmer for 2 hours. Taste for seasoning and add more salt pepper, as needed.
Serve topped with a Potato Mousseline:
- 6 Yukon Gold potatoes, rubbed with olive oil (Yukons are best for creaminess)
- 8 oz. unsalted butter (2 sticks)
- 1/4 cup heavy cream
Rub potatoes with olive oil and roast in oven until done. Remove skins. Pass potatoes through a food mill or ricer to puree. Add butter, cream and salt to taste. (I boiled the potatoes and used a hand mixer to mash.)
Place stew in a bowl and top with the Potato Mousseline and a few bits of parsley for garnish.