Braised Venison Stew with Dried Cherries and Chocolate
Dried cherries and chocolate bring out the flavors of the venison in this robust stew. Serve with gorgonzola polenta, mashed potatoes or tagliatelle pasta.
Preheat oven to 350ºF. Combine flour, salt, allspice, cinnamon and black pepper in a plastic bag. Add venison cubes to bag and coat each piece evenly.
In a large skillet over medium heat add olive oil and venison cubes and brown evenly. Do not crowd meat. Transfer meat to a heavy Dutch oven.
In skillet, discard fat, and add bacon and sauté. Add onions, celery and anchovy filets. Cook over medium heat until onions are soft. Add carrots and garlic cloves. Continue to brown, stirring frequently to remove browned bits of meat. Continue to caramelize.
Add cherries. When cherries soften, mix in the sugar, orange juice and balsamic vinegar. Stir frequently, do not burn.
Add the wine, stock, tomatoes and sliced mushrooms. Heat on top of stove until boiling, transfer to Dutch oven. Add the bouquet garni, salt and pepper and chocolate. Cover and cook for approximately 3 hours.
Combine all of the garni ingredients, wrap them in cheesecloth and tie together.