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YUM Contest Winner

Hungarian Venison Stew*

By Tom R. Kovach
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*CONTEST WINNER: My father told me that to poach one of the Emperor's deer (or even his rabbits for that matter), could lead to the death sentence for the guilty party. Poaching the Emperor's wildlife was more serious than killing or harming a human being...especially of the peasant variety.

Both my parents were born in Hungary well before it became a communist country after World War II. Back then Hungary was still part of the Austrian-Hungarian Empire. And the Emperor ruled with an iron fist. My father told me that to poach one of the Emperor's deer (or even his rabbits for that matter), could lead to the death sentence for the guilty party. Poaching the Emperor's wildlife was more serious than killing or harming a human being...especially of the peasant variety.

So my folks and their relatives weren't into shooting deer while they were still in Europe...but that changed when they came to America (My dad in 1912...just missing the Titanic..honestly, and my mom came over in 1922. Both teenagers at the time). My father worked in the coal mines of West Virginia and was a lumberjack in northern Michigan before buying a farm in Pennsylvania in 1925 (the folks lost the farm during the Great Depression). But it was up in the woods of Michigan that he was able to hunt deer, which lead to good eating...without fear of going to the gallows.

Both of my parents were great cooks, and when they came to north-central Minnesota in the early 1930s, they found wild game aplenty and adapted many of their Hungarian recipes to wildlife ingredients. Here's one of my favorites that I can make with reasonably good results. The Hungarians have a traditional dish known as Hungarian goulash. It usually is made of finely cut up meat and vegetables like onions, potatoes and carrots, and of course, Hungarian paprika. There is a lot of varieties but I simply call my dish "Hungarian Venison Stew." It simplifies things. Before I begin with the ingredients and preparation, let me just add that you can substitute venison with beef hamburger or diced beef steak.

 

Ingredients

1 pound (or a little more) of chopped venison or venison hamburger

3 slices of bacon, chopped

1 medium green pepper cut into one inch pieces

1/2 cup onions, chopped

4 cups chopped, cooked potatoes

1 glove garlic, minced

1 16 ounce can tomatoes, diced (can use fresh or frozen tomatoes too)

Dash of salt

Dash of black pepper


In a large skillet (a four-quart Dutch oven will work), cook the venison, bacon, green peppers and onions until the meat is browned and the vegetables are tender. Boil the potatoes in a pan on the side until done. Stir in the remaining ingredients and bring to a boil, then reduce the heat. Add potatoes so the dish is complete and simmer uncovered for about five minutes or until heated through. This makes about 4 servings (depending upon how hungry everyone is!).

As you are sitting there enjoying your meal and the wonderful aroma drifting through the air (you can't beat the wonderful smell of bacon and onions cooking together!), you can almost imagine yourself on the Hungarian Plains, or the Puzta, as the Hungarian word for plains is. Of course if you were back in Hungary, it probably wouldn't be venison or you might be having uninvited guests! But as I mentioned before, beef will do just fine too. Enjoy!