Venison Goulash and Potato Varenyky

With this recipe, I’m killing two old Eastern European birds with one stone. The combination isn’t just a gimmick, though; the two dishes actually work really well together!

The venison goulash uses one of the forelegs of the deer I killed last season. This is not a Hungarian gulyás, but rather the kind of winter goulash you would eat in Czech Republic or Austria — my recipe was inspired by something I found in Kurt Gutenbrunner’s Neue Cuisine. I recommend cooking it a day in advance, so that the flavors can blend overnight.

The unusual way the leg is marinated (by being plunged in boiling stock first) comes from Alain Senderens’ Canard Apicius 2010. Senderens claims that his method gets better results than sous-vide cooking. I had previously tried it on a roasted leg of deer and was really impressed, not to mention that I wouldn’t know how to cook a whole leg sous-vide in my home kitchen! Even if the long, gentle cooking of the goulash is likely to tenderize any tough joint of meat, I figured it wouldn’t hurt to use the Senderens method, especially since I planned to marinate the leg anyway. If you don’t have a whole deer leg, you can buy venison osso buco (here, for example), shorten the marinating time to one day, and scale the recipe accordingly.

Potato varenyky are Ukrainian dumplings similar to Polish pierogi but not fried. I found out they have a bit of a cult following, and several monuments have been erected to their glory. For this recipe, I am using the same rich filling as for my knishes. If you think of pierogi as a poorman’s dish made of potatoes, flour, and water, try these and have your mind changed. :) Of course, you could choose to make them without the goulash, and serve them with sour cream and fried onion as tradition dictates. If you do prepare together, the proportions below yield about four varenyky per plate, but you could decide to serve slightly fewer (or more).

Lazy Boris’ Corner:
Take a taxi to Korzo Haus. Sorry my recipe takes so long, but when you’ve spent 12 hours freezing in a tree stand to kill your deer, you’re not gonna rush the cooking!

Beef stock
Yields about 2 qt

1 1/2 lb oxtail
olive oil
4 oz peeled carrot, large dice
9 oz peeled onion, large dice
9 oz cored red pepper, large dice
1 garlic clove
16 oz red wine
3 cloves
3 peppercorns
1 juniper berry
1 cardamom pod
6 thyme sprigs
1 bay leaf
42 oz water

  • In a pressure cooker over high heat, sauté the oxtail in olive oil until brown on all sides. Add the carrot, onion, red pepper and garlic, and stir for 2-3 minutes. Add the red wine, cloves, peppercorns, juniper berry, cardamom, thyme and bay leaf, and simmer for another 2-3 minutes.
  • Add the water, cover, bring to pressure, then cook under pressure for 1 hour. Let cool for 30 minutes and pass through a chinois.

Marinated deer leg
Yields about 6 servings

1 deer foreleg, about 4 lb
2 qt beef stock

  • Chop the deer leg in half at the joint.
  • In a pot large enough to contained the two pieces covered with beef stock, bring the stock to a boil. Add the deer leg and let sit for 3 minutes. Remove the leg from the stock, then let the stock cool.
  • Return the leg to the pot, cover and refrigerate for at least 2 days.

Venison goulash
Yields 6 servings

16 oz peeled onion
3 peeled garlic cloves
8 oz peeled celery root
8 oz peeled carrot
3 tbsp sweet Hungarian paprika
1/2 tsp piment d’espelette
1 tsp ground anise
1 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground caraway
1 tsp ground allspice
marinated deer leg
salt
black pepper, ground
olive oil
2 tbsp tomato paste
40 oz marinade liquid
2 tsp thyme leaves
3 oz sour cream

  • Slice the onion and garlic very thinly using a mandoline.  Chop the celery root and carrot into a brunoise (the mandoline can also help you do half of this work).
  • In a saucepan over medium heat, heat the paprika, piment d’espelette, anise, coriander, cumin, caraway and allspice for 3 minutes, shaking regularly. Reserve.
  • Chop the deer leg into a total of 6 pieces. Season with salt and pepper. Heat the olive oil in an oven-proof pot over high heat, then sauté the venison until brown on all sides and reserve.
  • In the same pot over medium heat, sauté the onion and garlic until soft, then add the spices and stir for 2 minutes. Add the celery root, carrot and tomato paste, and cook for 5 more minutes.
  • Return the meat to the pot, add the marinade and thyme, and bring to a boil. Cover with a lid slightly ajar, and cook in a 200 F oven for 6 to 8 hours, until very tender. Let rest for 30 minutes.
  • Remove the meat from the pot, and reduce the sauce over high heat by about 1/3.
  • Use a hand blender directly in the pot to blend some, but not all of the chunks — you want the sauce to have a thick, coarse texture. If you don’t have a hand blender, just transfer 1/3 to 1/2 of the sauce and chunks to a regular blender, process until smooth, and return to the pot.
  • Mix in the sour cream, return the meat to the pot, and reserve.

Pasta dough
Yields slightly over 6 servings (24 varenyky)

6 oz flour
1/4 tsp salt
1 1/2 eggs
2 egg yolks
1 tbsp olive oil

  • In the bowl of an electric mixer fit with the paddle attachment, place half of the flour, plus the salt, egg, egg yolks and olive oil. Mix over low speed until homogeneous, scraping down the sides with a spatula. Add the rest of the flour and mix again until it forms a smooth paste.
  • Transfer to a floured surface, and knead with your hands for about 3 minutes. If necessary, add a little bit more flour until the dough doesn’t stick. Wrap in plastic and let rest for 30 minutes.

Potato purée
Yields slightly over 6 servings (24 varenyky)

8 oz peeled Yukon Gold potatoes, cut into 1″ slices
salt
1 oz sour cream
2.5 oz butter
1 pinch black pepper
1 pinch ground nutmeg

  • Bring a pot of unsalted water to 175 F. Add the potatoes, and cook for 30 minutes, maintaining the water temperature at 160 F (if you use a lot of water and cover the pot with a lid, the temperature should remain almost constant without you doing anything). Transfer the potatoes to a bowl of ice water, and let cool completely.
  • Bring the pot of water up to a boil and salt the water. Add the potatoes and simmer until cooked.
  • Pass through a food mill fit with the finest disk; if necessary, use some of the sour cream to get the grinding going. Mix the potatoes with the sour cream, butter, black pepper and nutmeg, then push the mixture through a sieve — you can either pass it through a conical sieve with a ladle, or rub it through a drum sieve with a spatula. Transfer to a plastic container, and refrigerate.

Potato varenyky
Yields slightly over 6 servings (24 varenyky)

pasta dough
1 egg yolk
1 tbsp water
potato purée
semolina
salt
1 oz butter

  • Using a pasta machine, roll the dough to the finest setting. I recommend proceeding in batches (cut the dough into 4 pieces) so that the pasta doesn’t dry out. Mix the egg yolk and water to make an egg wash.
  • Cut 24 discs (6 discs in each batch) using a 3 1/2″ cutter. Brush each disc with the egg wash, place a spoonful of potato purée in the center, then fold into a half-moon shape and seal the edges with your fingers. Each one should have a generous amount of potato, but not so much that it’s difficult to seal properly. Keep the varenyky on a sheet tray dusted with semolina.
  • Cook the varenyky in a large pot of boiling salted water until al dente. Drain, toss into a bowl with the butter, cover with plastic wrap and reserve.
  • If you plan to serve them on their own, however, cook until soft and serve immediately.

Caramelized onions
Yields 6 servings

1 oz butter
1 oz water
6 cipollini onions, peeled

  • Place the butter and water in a small saucepan over low heat. Add the onions, cover with a lid, and cook for 45 minutes, flipping the onions a couple times along the way.
  • Remove the lid and cook for another 10-15 minutes. If the liquid is completely reduced, add a little bit of water. Remove from the heat and reserve.

Assembly
Yields about 6 servings

potato varenyky
venison goulash
18 baby carrots of various colors, peeled
salt
caramelized onions
2 tbsp chopped flat-leaf parsley

  • Add the potato varenyky to the venison goulash, cover, and reheat on low heat.
  • Blanch the carrots in a little bit of salted boiling water until almost cooked, then transfer to a small saucepan with the caramelized onions, and reheat on low heat.
  • Serve with a generous amount of sauce, and sprinkle with parsley.

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7 thoughts on “Venison Goulash and Potato Varenyky

    • Thanks, I hope your grandma won’t get upset :) If I was to eat the varenyky by themselves, I would probably top them with onions in some form, caramelized or deep-fried.

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