Braised Venison with Polenta
Capriolo alla Montanara con Polenta

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Braised Venison with Polenta
Capriolo alla Montanara con Polenta
cookbook: Lidia's Italian Table
region: Friuli-Venezia Giulia
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serves: 6 servings

This is a typical recipe from Friuli, where venison is hunted in the wild. The venison is marinated quite a long time, which tenderizes the somewhat tough meat of wild venison. If you have a hunter in your familyk, this is the recipe to use in preparing his catch.


For the Marinade
½ cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 large onions, quartered
4 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
4 sprigs fresh thyme
4 sprigs fresh marjoram
1 cinnamon stick
freshly ground black pepper
2 pounds venison shoulder or leg, trimmed and cut into 1 1/2-inch pieces
1 quart red wine
½ cup red wine vinegar

To Finish the Stew
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 cups onions, sliced
freshly ground black pepper


In a large, heavy saucepan, heat 1/2 cup olive oil over low heat. Add the onion, garlic, celery, bay leaves, thyme, marjoram and cinnamon stick and cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are tender, about 25 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. In a bowl, toss the venison, wine, vinegar and cooked vegetable mixture. Toss well, cover the bowl and marinate in the refrigerator 2 days.

Pick the meat from the marinade and pat it dry. Strain the marinade and reserve the liquid. In a wide heavy braising pan or casserole, heat 2 tablespoons olive oil and the butter over medium heat until the butter is foaming. Add the onions and cook until wilted, about 6 minutes. Add the dried venison, season lightly with salt and pepper and over medium heat cook until all the liquid given off by the venison has evaporated and meat begins to brown, about 15 minutes.

Skim the oil from the surface of the strained marinade and add 1 cup of the marinade to the casserole. Adjust the heat to simmering and simmer, with the lid slightly ajar, until the venison is tender, about 1 hour and 30 minutes. Add additional marinade as needed to keep the level of liquid more or less even. The sauce should be syrupy and savory.

Serve with polenta.

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