Smoked Venison Stew

Smoked Venison Stew
Serves 6-8

Having tested this recipe many times, the most important thing we learned is to add the smoked venison to the finished stew base. If you cook the venison in the stew base, it will be too tough.

What you need:
1 cup dry pinto beans
2 pounds venison roast, or quarter, cut in 1-inch cubes
2 teaspoons Smoked Chili Powder (recipe to follow)
½ cup apple juice, in a spray bottle, for the grill
1 tablespoon canola oil
1 ½ cups finely-diced yellow onion
1 ½ cups finely-diced green bell pepper
1 ½ cups finely-diced celery root
¼ cup minced jalapeño
1 tablespoon thinly-sliced garlic
1 (14.5-ounce) can whole peeled tomatoes, roughly chopped, and juice reserved
1 tablespoon plus 2 teaspoons salt, divided
1 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
½ teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon cocoa powder
1 quart plus 1 cup chicken stock

What to do:
1. The day before you plan to cook, place the pinto beans in a medium bowl or pot with 1 quart water, or enough to cover, and let them soak overnight, uncovered.

2. The next day, rinse and drain the beans, discarding any broken ones or stones. Set aside until ready to use.

3. Prepare the Smoked Chili Powder.

4. Cover a rimmed sheet pan with parchment paper or aluminum foil. Arrange the cubed venison on the sheet pan in one layer with all of the cubes touching. Dust the meat with ½ teaspoon Smoked Chili Powder and ½ teaspoon salt, then use your hands to flip the venison cubes over, and dust again with ½ teaspoon Smoked Chili Powder and ½ teaspoon salt. Transfer the seasoned cubes to a wire rack.

5. When you are ready to cook, heat the smoker to 300 degrees F pit temperature. Alternatively, heat a grill to 300 degrees F, using the 2-Zone setup.

6. Place the wire rack of venison in the smoker, or on the cool side of the 2-Zone grill, and cook 30 to 40 minutes, spraying the meat with apple juice every 15 minutes to moisten. The venison is done when a meat thermometer placed in the thickest part of the meat reads an internal temperature of 135 degrees F. Remove the wire rack from the smoker or grill and set the venison aside to cool to room temperature. Slice the cooled cubes into thirds, and set aside.

7. Heat the canola oil in a heavy-bottomed, 4-quart pot over medium-low heat. Add the onion, green bell pepper, celery root, and jalapeño and sauté 5 minutes, stirring often with a wooden spoon. Stir in the garlic, and season with 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon salt, the pepper, cinnamon, and cocoa powder, and continue to cook 3 minutes, stirring constantly. Stir in the tomato, chicken stock, and the drained pinto beans, and simmer 60 to 75 minutes, uncovered, until the beans are tender.

8. Remove from the heat, cover, and let the stew rest 1 hour at room temperature.

9. Return the pot to medium-low heat, add the venison cubes, and gently simmer 2 to 3 minutes, until the stew is warmed through. Adjust the seasoning as necessary, and serve in bowls.

Smoked Chili Powder
Yields a generous 2 cups

What you need:
1 cup smoked paprika
5 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon dried Greek oregano
3 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon ground cumin
3 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon granulated garlic
3 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
2 tablespoons granulated onion

What to do:
In a medium bowl, mix all ingredients together thoroughly. Store in an airtight container until ready to use.

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