Several days ago, a relative gave me a huge piece of doe, at least 4 kilogramms worth. Having quickly grilled and eaten as steaks some of the more tender parts, there was still a generous amount of meat left. I decided to cook an old fashion stew: duck grease, small onions, smoked bacon, sliced carrot, dried boleti, rosmary, thyme, laurel, loads of red wine, and several hours of gentle boiling. I had four tasting samples of Listrac-Médoc 2003 (classical Bordeaux blend). Two of them, one (Château Fonréaud) with a red fruit nose, still a bit young, but well balanced, the other (Château Fourcas-Hostein) on the blackberry marmelade side and a powerful fruit in mouth, were poured together in the cooking pan, over the meat. A good wine always makes a good sauce!
After the friends I had invited to taste this piece of gastronomic history arrived at our place, we had them wait with dried tomatoes and apricots, some olives and a half-sweet gros manseng, a grape from the South-West of France. Playing was Moodyman’s album Black Mahogany II (Peacefrog), a jazz-like, altogether smooth, mysterious and dark piece of music. As some people were a bit late, we went on to the other white, a slightly fizzy Gaillac, mauzac grape, fresh like a green apple. The freshness of it fit very well with the Norwegian music, Mùm’s Finally We Are No One (Fat cat), on the stereo.
The friends who were late had had a rough time in the metro. We tried to ease them with some olive, green pepper and prune flavored duck patés, an avocado salad and the third Listrac 2003 (Château Lestage). I had opened it the day before to smooth its young tanins and reveal the menthol of its strong chocolate and berry palate. I tried to put on a piece of music I had recorded with my improvised music project, the Mainstream Ensemble, but as it didn’t get general approval, I switched to the minimal techno of Maurizio (Rythm and sound), which helped us stay awake and cool. Then came the doe civet, and some well-appreciated mashed potatoes, carrots and broccoli with some slices of rare black truffle I had the like to have stached away in my fridge .
We tried to visit the Provence with a 2000 Bandol, but it was unfortunately stinking of glue and cork. We jumped directly to an organic Côtes du Rhône 2003, 100% syrah, surprisingly supple at the beginning and comfortable at the end. During this time, we explored some classics from my vinyl collection, beginning with Henry Mancini’s soundtrack for the movie « Charade » (RCA), carrying on to John Barry’s work for « The IP Cress file » (CBS), and ending with a cheezy piece of disco, the slightly reggae-like « Miss Broadway » tune by a girlband of the 70’s called Belle Epoque (Carrere). The doe bits were dancing in our mouths, and there was enough stew for anyone to get a second plate. We then welcomed some plum brandy along with an orange flower cake.
As it was someone’s birthday, but singing seemed too quaint, I played Stevie Wonder’s « Happy Birthday », and, after a short praise session of Wonder’s work, we listened to three tracks of his 1973’s masterwork, Innervisions (Motown). We ended the evening sipping Armagnac and biting into some Venezuelan chocolate in the sugary, bitter haze of Curtis Mayfield’s « Superfly » (RCA). Then the guests tried to ride a Superfly home, but all they could find was a cab.
Doe stew :
(serves 6 as main course)
3,3 lbs doe meat (can be replaced by deer, boar or beef)
1 T duck grease (or olive oil)
2 bottles red wine
2 big onions or 10 little ones
2 thick slices of bacon
5 slices of dried boleti (or other wild mushrooms)
2 laurel leaves
salt, pepper, thyme, rosmary,
1) Cut the meat in big cubes and uncork the bottles. Peel and wash the carrots, slice them (rather thick), cut the bacon in bits, peel the onions. Slice them if they’re big.
3) Put the duck grease in a large pot on a high heat, let the grease warm and melt. Then put the carrots, the onions and the bacon together in the hot duck grease, add salt, pepper, thyme and rosemary. Stir frequently and let fry until the onions begin to turn clear (approximatly 10 minutes).
4) Add the meat, some more salt and pepper. Stir continuously for one minute (no longer) while the doe turns grey and brown. Pour enough wine to cover the meat. (If there’s any left over, pour a glass and drink it!) Lastly, add the dried boleti and two or three laurel leaves to the sauce.
5) Let the sauce come to a boil, then reduce the heat. Simmer slowly, so as not to dry the meat. Cover the pot. Every twenty minutes, open and stir, taste how the wine evolves from its original aromas to a chocolaty flavor. It will take approximately two hours to get to this result. The meat will still be soft and will have acquired the taste of the sauce. When this is the case, take it off the heat and let cool. Eat it then if you can’t wait, but if you can, several hours later, reheat it slowly and cook one more hour on low. Again, if you can’t wait, eat it, but if you can, wait one more day, then reheat it slowly once more. Enjoy it with fresh pasta, mashed vegetables, rice or polenta, anything that will allow you to savor each drop of the sauce!
(By the way, the cooking burns all the alcohol. Do not hesitate to open some more bottles of cabernet or syrah to drink with your stew!)