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Moose Merlot

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The first day of June seemed an appropriate day to celebrate approaching warm summery weather with a hearty stew. Well, it seemed to make sense at the time. Besides I had all this wild stew meat in my freezer that wanted to be eaten.

So I invited a few friends over for my soon to be famous Moose Merlot, sort of a wild take on Julia Child's Boeuf bourguignon (beef stew meat cooked in red wine).

Yes, thanks to my good hunting friend Bob, I have a freezer with several pounds of both elk and moose. My apologies to Bullwinkle.

I won't go into the step by step recipe. Julia Child's recipe and many variations for beef burgundy are easy enough to find on the Internet. And we'll all be too busy on the barbecue to mess with a hot stew for next few months.

But a few comments about the differences between moose and beef are in order. Moose is not nearly as gamey as venison. But it is very lean. I used a few ounces of pork belly (bacon works) and also a pound of chuck steak added to two pounds of moose stew meat to add fat and flavor.

The meat chunks were browned in small batches in the fat before adding most of a bottle of merlot and a quart of beef stock. Onions and mushrooms were sauteed in butter and added to the stew pot near the end of the three to four hour cooking period.

I used sliced onions from my garden rather than the expensive pearl onions in Child's recipe. Carrots are also great in this dish, but I didn't use any this time. Lots of mushrooms are essential, wild would be fitting. I seasoned with a bouquet garni of fresh thyme, basil, bay leaf and a small sprig of rosemary.

The stew was served with a heaping mound of polenta that added great color and contrast. We had sides of asparagus, softened red bell pepper strips sauteed with bread crumbs and roasted green beans with pine nuts. A light salad followed. Barbara's homemade rhubarb custard pie made a fantastic dessert.

Wines were a Cave B Tempranillo, my own 2008 Bourdeaux style red blend and a French Cote du Rhone. The tempranillo was the star.

Thank you moose. Farewell cool spring weather. Hello summer.

Leftovers with garlic mashed potatoes (photo) were supreme.