Slow Cooked Bison Stew

Stew Pioneers made stew from whatever they had.  In the spirit of the old West, we're going  to show you how to do the same thing.  There's no recipe.  There's no measuring.  There's no obsessing over this and that.  There are only a few simple guidelines and from there you can fly.  Read on to see how you can make the best stew you've ever eaten. Ingredients: Bison Steak      Stew isn't something you pull out the tenderloins or the ribeyes for.   It also isn't something you use hamburger in.  You use a steak or roast that's cheap, and you use  lots of it.  We recommend bison sirloin. Onion     Onions are like garlic, when it comes to stew.  It's hard to have too many onions.  Plus they cook down to nothing.  The sweeter yellow onions add the most flavor, but use what you have (with the exception of red onions.  Don't use those.  Too strong for this application.)  If I'm using a couple of steaks, I'll use two to three onions. Potatoes     You can use whatever potatoes you have, and as many as you like.  We particularly like Yukon Gold or just plain old red potatoes.  Fingerling potatoes make a nice stew as well.  The guiding principle here is the meat is the star of the stew.  Don't let everything else (or anything else) crowd out the meat. Mushrooms     If you have fresh mushrooms, throw them in.  Portabellas are especially nice in a stew.  Don't ever use canned mushrooms (in anything) and don't make a special trip to the store to buy some.  But if you have them, they're great. Carrots     I usually put in just enough carrots to satisfy my mom -- so if she came in I could say,  "See.  It has a carrot there and there."  If you like carrots, use more.  Just don't overwhelm the meat.  That is the overarching principle. Celery     Celery is the same as the carrots.  Use what you think you need to.  It does add some flavor, so you need some. Garlic     If you have some fresh garlic, use that in your stew as well.  It's another of those things where only fresh will do.  If you don't have any, don't worry about it.  But if you do, it makes things so much more delightful.  How much?  Whatever you like.  1 clove will work for people who don't love garlic.  But if you're a big garlic lover, 5-6 cloves is nice.  Leave them whole.  Don't crush, mince, slice, etc.  Just throw them in whole.  They're going cook a long time and if you expose too much of the surface, your stew will take on an undesirable bitter flavor. Spices     Use whatever you have.  Open the lid and take a whiff.  If it smells like it would go good, throw some in.  If not, move on to the next bottle.  The key with spices is the same with garlic.  You're going to be cooking for a long time, so you don't want to get too much spice.  Start with a little then move up if you need to.  Like always, you salt and pepper to taste. Stock     If you have a little fresh veggie stock or beef stock, you can put some of that in.  You want this to be a stew, not a soup, so don't get carried away.  It's supposed to be thick.  So don't freak out if that's what you have.  It should have some liquid, but not be swimming in it.  You be the judge. Cooking instructions If you're a real cowboy, chunk up the above ingredients and put them in a dutch oven and slow cook it over the coals for several hours.  If you're like the rest of us, throw everything in a crock pot and cook for 6-8 hours on low.  Avoid the temptation of cooking at a higher temperature.  It doesn't get done any faster, it just burns.  Plan ahead and you'll be well rewarded. Stew is hearty, healthy, and filling.  It's great for cold fall and winter days and for dinner any time you've been doing a lot of hard physical labor.    As we've said before, you cook as much with your nose as anything.  Trust your sense of smell.  You don't always have to taste things.  Your nose will tell you if everything is the way it should be. So remember the principles:  meat is the star, use whatever you have in whatever quantities you like, and cook low and slow.  This is easy.  Prep time is minimal.  you don't have to really "cook" it.  You just check in on it from time to time.  Then enjoy.  It doesn't get any easier and it could be any better.  Let us know how you liked it!

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