SERVES 6 - 8
Tuscany has strict rules when it comes to hunting. Wild boar may be hunted with a license, but deer are off limits. That you must buy from a butcher. One of the typical dishes derived from hunters is capriolo scottiglia, deer meat cooked in wine. Scottiglia means to be burned and in this case means that the meat must be well browned before the wine is added.
Marinating the meat in wine overnight will help to give the dish a rich taste. It is best to use the leg cut of meat which will need to cook for three hours, so start the process early in the day. Stew beef can be substituted for the deer.
3 1/2 pounds deer meat from the leg, cut into 1-inch pieces
3 cups dry red wine, such as Centine
1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
3 ribs celery, cut into chunks
1 medium red onion, peeled and quartered
2 large cloves garlic, peeled
2 tablespoons fresh rosemary needles
8 or 9 fresh sage leaves
1 teaspoon or more of fine sea salt
Grinding of black pepper
3 cups pureed tomatoes
The day before making the stew, marinate the meat in 3 cups of the wine.
When ready to cook, drain off the wine and reserve it. Dry the meat on paper towels and set aside.
In a large cast iron or heavy duty stove-top skillet, brown the meat in the olive oil over medium-high heat. If your skillet is small, do this in batches. Do not pile the meat pieces on top of each other or they will not brown evenly.
Meanwhile mince the celery, onion, garlic, rosemary, and sage together until fine. I do this in a food processor.
When all the meat is browned, add the minced vegetables to the skillet and cook until the vegetables begin to soften. Add salt and pepper and 2 cups of the reserved wine. Raise the heat to high and allow half of the wine to evaporate. Lower the heat to a simmer, add the tomatoes and cook for 2 or 3 minutes. Then cover the skillet and cook the meat over low heat for about 3 hours or until fork tender.
Maria likes to serve the stew with roast potatoes.
This recipe is from CIAO ITALIA IN TUSCANY by Mary Ann Esposito, published by St. Martin's Press in 2003.
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