A bear hunter’s twist on a classic French dish: Bear Bourguignon!
As originally published in Wide Open Spaces
Recipe & Photos by Tatiana Whitlock
The joys of hunting involve a measure of patience and attention to detail and fines. The same can be said for the careful preparation of the wild game that you harvest.
Just like hunting, a good meal is worth the wait. This classic French dish has been modified to bring out the best that a bear harvest has to offer. Rich, bold, savory flavors simmer to yield a melt in your mouth bear meat dish that is sure to become a staple in your wild game recipe collection.
This dish is worth the investment in time and care and perfect for a Sunday afternoon family meal. Enjoy with a crusty bread, the company of family and friends and make a believer out of even the harshest wild game critic!
*You will need at least a four-quart Creuset or similar pot.
*Makes 6 servings
Phase 1 – Making the base
3 tablespoons olive oil
10 ounces of chopped bacon or better yet pancetta
3 pounds of bear meat, chopped into 1/2″ cubes
4 cups full-bodied red wine, pinot noir works well
3 cloves of finely diced garlic
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 3/4 cup hot double-strength beef stock
2 thinly sliced medium carrots
1 bouquet garni (made of fresh parsley, thyme, rosemary sprigs and 2 fresh bay leaves)
2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
Heat the oil and add bacon or pancetta over medium/low heat. When the bacon is browned, remove it with a slotted spoon and set aside to be added back later.
Brown the bear meat in batches until all are nicely cooked adding olive oil when necessary.
Return the bacon and bear to the pot and deglaze with the wine. Stir and scrape the base of the pot to incorporate all of those wonderful tasty bits.
Add the garlic, tomato paste, beef stock, carrots, the bouquet garni and 2 teaspoons black pepper and bring to a simmer. Once the mixture is nicely simmering cover the pot, reduce the heat to low and cook for two hours.
Phase 2 – Flavor, Flavor, Flavor
4 tablespoons butter
14 ounces small shallots or white pickling onions
14 ounces small button mushrooms
At the 1.5 hour mark, patiently caramelize the onions. Cook them, slowly, in two tablespoons of melted butter for about fifteen minutes or until golden brown. Remove with a slotted spoon and set aside.
Add in the remaining two tablespoons of butter to the same pan and sauté the mushrooms until cooked through and the juices have evaporated. Add mushrooms to the onions on a separate plate.
Bring a separate pot of water to a boil for your choice of pasta. In the meal pictured here, an egg noodle was used but any pasta of your choice that can hold the thick broth will work well.
Phase 3 – Finishing Touches
3 tablespoons softened, room temperature, butter
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
At the two-hour mark, remove the lid and take out the bouquet garni.
In a small bowl combine the butter and flour to make a Beurre Manié.
Stir in one tablespoon of the Beurre Manié into the pot at a time until fully incorporated.
Now fold in the caramelized onions and mushrooms and season to taste.
Serve over pasta, garnish with parsley and enjoy with a crusty loaf of bread!