What’s in a Smell?
It’s been ages and ages since I cooked something Croatian. In fact, I can’t even remember the last time I did it. A few days ago, I decided to make a venison stew, just like my mum makes it in Dalmatia. She calls it ‘ Game Hunter’s Style’ (Divljač na lovački). It’s a fantastic recipe that works well with lots of different type of game. Mum normally makes it with hare, or with pheasant; chicken and beef can also be used. Mum serves this with homemade pasta, similar to short and thick spaghetti, about 7 cm long. It works well with tagliatele, dried or fresh. Here, I used mashed potatoes, and mashed turnip and parsnip, and it worked well!
As I was cooking it, I thought the colour was somehow not quite right (a little pale perhaps), but the smell was spot on! Just right! Perfect! And was the smell that brings me back in time, to a little house in Dalmatia… And it makes me feel nostalgic… And it surprises me, because I am not normally nostalgic – ever. Really, what’s in a smell? The answer is simple: a lot of memories.
This is not an everyday dish. It is a special, festive dish, and so it is perfect for the inauguration of my blog. Let me share it with you!
Venison Stew Hunter’s Style
(Croatian: Srnetina na lovački)
2 onions, chopped finely
1 medium to large carrot, grated
1 clove of garlic, chopped
500 g venison
2 dl white wine
a little chopped parsley
a bit of chopped celery leaf
2 bay leaves
a small sprig of rosemary
Sugar to taste
Fry the onions for a little in some vegetable oil. Add grated carrots. Fry the carrot and onion mixture, stirring occasionally, until it becomes soft, and the onions become slightly browned. Be patient, as this can take a while. Please don’t be tempted to do this quickly, this is important, and it will form the base of the stew, in which the onion acts as a thickening agent.
After the onions are done, add the venison. When the meat is browned, add a little water and stir. This will further soften up the onions, so they are almost melted. When the water evaporates, and some more, and repeat the process until you get a mushy saucy mixture.
Add a little of tomato pure and some more water to cover the meat. Cook until the meat becomes soft. Then, add the wine and the bay leaf, and cook until the sauce thickens, and the meat is soft. Towards the end, add lemon, rosemary, sugar to taste and some seasoning. Cook for further 10 minutes.
Serve with fresh egg tagliatele.