Life in a Northern Town

Venison & Pork Bacheofe

When Charly offered me two venison roasts, I knew exactly what to make for dinner. Earlier in the week, Ted asked me if I could find a recipe for the Black Forest's Alsatian casserole and while I had no luck with the Black Forest version, I found an intriguing recipe for an Alsatian Bacheofe. A bacheofe is a slow cooked stew with a dough rope that seals the pot and creates the perfect braising environment. The dough literally seals every ounce of flavorful braising liquid in the pot, where it can work its magic on the meat and vegetables.

When I broke the seal, I kind of felt like Geraldo Rivera when he unsealed Al Capone's vault, except my 'vault' was full of tender meat, potatoes and carrots (much tastier than dirt and a few broken bottles). I served the stew with braised red cabbage (recipe here) and it was a perfect contrast to the richness of the bacheofe. This does require a little forethought (the meat and vegetables marinate overnight) but like all braises, was about as easy as it gets and is a perfect meal when it's below zero (again) and snowing (again). Here's to winter and all the cold, snow and hearty braises that make it tolerable.

Venison Bacheofe (Inspired by Saveur.com)

4 pounds of venison, cut into 1 1/2 inch pieces
2 pounds pork shoulder, trimmed and cut into 1 1/2 inch pieces
Kosher salt and pepper
3 cups dry white wine
2 tablespoons rosemary, chopped
6 sprigs of thyme
6 cloves of garlic, minced
2 bay leaves
4 medium carrots, peeled and sliced
3 medium yellow onions, chopped
4 parsnips. peeled and sliced
1 cup fresh whole cranberries
8 tablespoons butter
1/4 cup duck fat
3 pounds Yukon Gold potatoes, sliced
1 pound bacon
1 cup flour
5 tablespoons water

Preparation
Place venison and pork in a large bowl and season with salt and pepper. In another bowl, place the onions, parsnips and carrots.  Add the wine, rosemary, garlic, bay leaves and thyme sprigs in a bowl and mix to combine. Divide the marinade between the two bowls, cover and refrigerate overnight.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Add the cranberries to the marinated vegetables and set aside. Heat a large sauté pan over medium high heat, melt 2 tablespoons of butter and brown 1/4 of the meat mixture evenly on all sides. Repeat, adding two tablespoons of butter each time, until all the meat has been browned. Add browned meat and remaining marinade to the vegetables. Rub the sides and bottom of a large cast iron dutch oven with duck fat. Layer the potatoes, marinated meat and vegetables in the pot (seasoning each layer with salt and pepper), ending with a layer of potatoes. Pour the remaining marinade in the dutch oven and arrange the bacon over the top layer of potatoes.

Mix the flour and water in a bowl, knead briefly to combine and roll into a rope long enough to encircle the rim of your dutch oven. Firmly press the rope of dough on the rim of your dutch oven and cover with the lid. Bake for 4 hours and, using a knife, break the dough seal, remove lid and serve with braised cabbage (recipe here).