2 cups chicken stock
1 red onion
1/2 pound red potatoes
1 pound bison stew meat
4 juniper berries
1 teaspoon dried sage
1/2 teaspoon smoked black pepper
1/4 teaspoon dried rosemary
8 oz. package Baby Bella mushrooms
Pour 2 cups chicken stock into a crockpot. Put the lid on the crockpot and turn it on HIGH.
Peel the red onion and chop it coarsely. Add the onion to the crockpot.
Rinse 1/2 pound red potatoes and chop into bite-sized pieces. Add the potatoes to the crockpot.
Rinse and pat dry 1 pound bison stew meat. Sprinkle with salt and black pepper. Toss to coat evenly. Add the meat to the crockpot. Stir.
In a mortar and pestle, grind together 4 juniper berries, 1 teaspoon dried sage, 1/2 teaspoon smoked black pepper, and 1/4 teaspoon dried rosemary. Sprinkle the herbs into the crockpot. Stir.
Allow to cook for about 2 hours.
Add 8 oz. Baby Bella mushrooms. Stir.
Allow to cook for about 1 hour. Stir and taste. Adjust seasoning if necessary. Stew is done when the potatoes are soft and the meat is brown and tender. The mushrooms should be tender but not mushy.
Crockpot cooking is a cheap, easy method. You can also cook this stew for a longer time on a lower setting.
Stock will make a thicker, richer stew than broth but you can substitute broth. Chicken, beef, or bison stock/broth should work fine. Use what you have.
Red onion has a darker, sweeter flavor than white or yellow onion. It blends well with the bison flavors. Any other onion will work if you can't find red.
Red potatoes are excellent for crockpot cooking, and they are native to the Americas. I like to use baby potatoes.
Bison is a rich, sweet meat with high nutrition and low fat. It is easier to find bison that is free of hormones and other contaminants, compared to beef. Stew meat is cut into chunks. You could probably substitute ground bison, although you might want to fry it first so it sticks together, then break it into pieces. Add that later, with the mushrooms.
Plain table salt is fine for this recipe, although sea salt is ideal. I use sea salt in a grinder.
The peppers are also flexible. You can use all black pepper, or all smoked pepper. I used plain black pepper from a grinder for dusting the meat, then added smoked pepper to the spice blend. Smoked pepper brings out the dark and musky notes in bison flavor.
The spices in this recipe are all chosen to enhance the natural flavor of bison. (If you want bison to taste like domestic beef, this recipe does not do that.) Juniper berries and rosemary have resinous, woodsy notes. Juniper is a good spice for most game meats and appears in many Native American recipes. Sage has a musky, leafy flavor.
Baby Bella mushrooms are just immature portabellas. They have a rich, dark flavor that complements many game meats. Mature portabellas should work just as well if you chopped them. You could also substitute button mushrooms, golden mushrooms, or other round-capped mushrooms. Note that the mushrooms get added later than other ingredients so they don't turn to slush.
Like many stew recipes, this one is flexible. Use what ingredients and spices you have available, and feel free to tinker with the proportions.