A CLASSIC SOUTHERN SUMMERTIME STEW
When it comes to seasonal eating, nothing screams summertime in the southern United States like a pot of tomato okra stew. This combination of flavors can be found in cookbooks dating back as early as the 1800’s.
Fast forward to the 1900’s, the addition of beef shanks were commonplace in the lowcountry regions, paired alongside creamy pimento cheese sandwiches. In this recipe, I opt for venison shanks in place of the beef, but lamb works quite well here too.
In place of the pimento cheese sandwiches, we are using the velvety Italian classic, ricotta gnudi. Gnudi is an “easier to make” relative of gnocchi, with its ingredients consisting of parmesan, ricotta, egg and flour. To further showcase the flavors of summertime, freshly shaved corn and basil are a welcomed addition.
- If you are unable to get your hands on venison shanks, lamb shanks will work in their place. 1 pound of boneless beef stew meat will work as well.
- The recipe calls for a cookie scooper to shape the gnudi. If you don’t have a scooper, two soup spoons will work to shape the gnudi and place in the simmering water.
For the Stew
- 2 venison shanks, deboned and cut into large chunks
- 1 tablespoon bacon fat or olive oil
- 1 large onion, diced
- 3 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 bell pepper, seeded and diced
- 1 fresh ear of corn, cut from the cobb (1 cup frozen works fine)
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 (28-ounce) can fire roasted crushed tomatoes
- 4 cups water
- 1 pound okra, sliced ½ inch thick, caps removed
- ½ teaspoon smoked paprika
- kosher salt and black pepper
- Hot sauce (optional)
For the Gnudi
- ½ cup ricotta cheese
- 1 cup grated parmesan cheese
- 1 egg
- ¼ cup all purpose flour
- Lemon zest
- Olive oil
- Black pepper
- Fresh basil
- Parmesan cheese
Heat a large pot with the bacon fat over medium high heat. Once the pot starts to slightly smoke add the meat to the pot in an even layer. Season with salt and pepper. Cook on one side until nicely browned. Stir the meat and brown on all sides. Lower the heat to medium and remove the meat from the pot and set aside in a bowl.
The recipe calls for 2 venison shanks, deboned and cut into large chunks. We recommend using the GiantMouse Carving Knife for this step as the blade can provide better control and precision while cutting. This is especially useful when deboning meat, as it allows you to maneuver around bones and joints more easily. Our Carving Knife is designed to have a razor-sharp edge, which makes it ideal for cutting through tough cuts of meat like venison shanks. The sharpness of the blade ensures clean, smooth cuts, minimizing the effort required and reducing the risk of tearing or shredding the meat.
Add the onions, pepper, bay leaves and paprika to the pot. Season lightly with salt and pepper. Add additional fat or oil if it looks too dry. Cook while stirring occasionally until the onions are soft, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for 2 minutes more.
This recipe calls for a diced onion and bell pepper, minced garlic, and corn cut from the cobb. We reccomend using the GiantMouse Chef knife for these steps, as the longer blade length of the knife enables easy and swift cutting motions, allowing you to dice and mince vegetables quickly, saving time and effort in the kitchen. With its versatility and comfortable grip, our Chef knife provides excellent control and maneuverability, making it an indispensable tool for achieving consistent and uniform vegetable cuts, whether you're dicing onions or mincing herbs.
Add the water, tomatoes and venison to the pot. Stir and scrape up any bits from the bottom of the pot. Cover the pot and cook at a simmer until the meat is just tender. This can take up to 2 hours. Stir occasionally to prevent burning and add water as needed if the stew becomes too thick.
While the stew is cooking, start on the gnudi. In a large bowl, add the ricotta, parmesan and egg. Stir until combined. Slowly add the flour and stir until just combined. Cover and place in the refrigerator until step 6.
Once the meat is tender add the okra and corn to the pot and cook uncovered for 30 minutes at a simmer. Season to taste with salt, pepper and hot sauce.
While you're cooking the okra and corn, start cooking the gnudi. Bring a large pot of water to a simmer. Using a cookie scoop, scoop out the gnudi balls and add to the simmering water. Cook until they start to float, about 3 to 5 minutes. Gently remove the gnudi from the water and place on a plate.
To serve, pour the stew into bowls. Top with gnudi, fresh basil, parmesan and freshly cracked pepper. To elevate the dish even further, lemon zest and olive oil are great additions as well.