Tuesday, February 02, 2021

Phil's Prediction

Phil, the great Groundhog from Punxutawney who is the seer of seers, the prognosticators of prognosticators has spoken to his handler. The language is known as Grounhogeze, a language only a few of us speak has informed his master handler of his prediction for 2021.

The little SOB saw his shadow. 

Groundhog Stew, with Bacon and Natural Wild Rice

Marinate the woodchuck, brown it, braise in stock, remove meat from the bones, then sweat some diced vegetables, add back the meat and cooking liquid, along with some rice, season it up, and voila. Have some good bread around, you're going to want to wipe the bowl clean.
Prep Time12 hrs
Cook Time30 mins
Course: Main Course, Soup
Cuisine: American
Keyword: Groundhog, Small game, Stew, Woodchuck
 
Servings: 

Ingredients

  • One roughly 2-3 lb groundhog skinned, gutted, rinsed and quartered (see photo above)

Marinade

  • 3 cups dry white wine
  • 1 bulb of garlic cloves lightly crushed with the back of a knife
  • 1 large sprig rosemary leaves torn off the branch
  • a small handful of fresh thyme sprigs roughly 6-7
  • 2 fresh bay leaves optional
  • Kosher salt and pepper
  • 1/4 cup blended olive oil or neutral vegetable oil

For the Groundhog Stew

  • 3 cups mixed vegetables diced 1/4 inch (I used a mix of carrots, potatoes, onion, celery and fennel)
  • 1 large tomato
  • 3 qts chicken stock preferably homemade
  • 4 ounces smoked pork belly or slab bacon diced 1/4 inch
  • 1/4 cup wild rice flour for dredging the woodchuck, optional
  • 1/2 tablespoon garlic minced
  • 1/4 cup dry sherry
  • 1/2 cup wood parched / natural wild rice or 1 cup cooked wild rice
  • 1 ear of sweet corn
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • Tobasco to taste, optional
  • Sliced scallions 1/4 inch, tender white and green parts only, optional

Instructions

Marinating

  • The night before hand, trim the groundhog pieces of as much visible fat as possible, then season liberally with salt and pepper, toss with the garlic cl0ves, oil, thyme, bay leaves, and rosemary. Put the seasoned groundhog pieces in a wide dish or casserole and pour over the wine. Allow the woodchuck to sit overnight or at least for 4-5 hours, turn it around in the juices now and then if you have time.
  • Cut the corn from the cob, then cut the cobb into 2 inch slices and reserve both separately.
  • To prepare the stew, render out the fat from the bacon in a wide 10 inch braising pan, remove the bacon and reserve, leave the fat in the pan.

Browning and Building the Stew

  • Remove the groundhog pieces from their marinade, pat dry and remove any rogue herbs or pieces of garlic. Toss with the wild rice flour, then brown on medium high heat in the bacon fat. Pour off the spent fat from the pan, deglaze the pan with the sherry, reduce by half, then add the stock, corn cob, cover the pan and reduce the heat to a gentle simmer. If you have time, skim the albumen and fat that rise to the surface of the pan occasionally as it makes a cleaner tasting stew. Simmer the groundhog gently for 1.5 hours, or until the meat can be picked from the bones.
  • Meanwhile, cook the wild rice in the chicken stock until just done, then strain out the rice and lay out on a plate or cookie sheet to cool. Reserve the wild rice liquid to add to the stew. It adds really good flavor, and that's why you're cooking the rice in chicken stock in the first place.
  • Remove the woodchuck pieces and cool, then pick the meat from the bones, give it a rough chop, and reserve. You should have about 2.5 cups of meat.
  • Remove the stock from the pan and reserve then strain it. You should have about 1 qts of liquid.
  • Wipe the pan, then melt the butter and add the diced vegetables and the garlic. Sweat the mixture until it's well cooked, and the vegetables are soft, about 15 minutes, then add the reserved woodchuck liquid, wild rice liquid and simmer for 15 minutes more.
  • Finally, add the woodchuck meat, corn kernels, and wild rice. Season the stew with salt to taste, then serve immediately with some Tobasco on the side. If not serving, chill immediately, transfer to a labeled, dated container and reserve until needed.

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