“Bear remains a traditional Native food, especially in the Northern Heartland, where these animals are abundant. They’re known to raid summer cabins and park dumpsters, and to snatch small pets. Hunting bear for food is one of the best ways to control the expanding population.
Moose, elk, and antelope are also great choices for this recipe because the slow cooking helps to turn the meat tender and flavorful. If these are not available, substitute bison or lamb. Serve this over Corn Cakes. Like most hearty stews, it will taste better the day after it’s made.” —Sean Sherman with Beth Dooley in their 2018 Beard Award–winning cookbook, The Sioux Chef's Indigenous Kitchen
4 to 6 servings
- 1 ounce dried wild mushrooms, such as chanterelles, trumpet, or morels
- 1 cup boiling water
- 3 tablespoons sunflower oil
- 2 1/2 to 3 pounds bear, lamb, or bison, cut into 2-inch cubes
- Coarse salt
- Crushed juniper
- 3 wild onions or 1 large leek, white part, trimmed
- 8 ounces fresh mushrooms, coarsely chopped
- 1 tablespoon minced fresh oregano
- 2 teaspoons sumac to taste
- 1 cup corn stock or vegetable stock
Make the corn stock: save the corncobs after you’ve enjoyed boiled or roasted corn on the cob or you’ve cut the kernels for use in a recipe. Put the corncobs into a pot and cover with water by about 1 inch. Bring to a boil and partially cover. Reduce the heat and simmer until the stock tastes “corny,” about 1 hour. Discard the cobs. Store the stock in a covered container in the refrigerator or freezer.
Put the dried mushrooms in a small bowl and pour the boiling water over them. Soak the mushrooms about 20 minutes until softened. Drain and reserve the soaking liquid. Chop the mushrooms and set them aside.
In a large, heavy pot, heat the sunflower oil over medium-high heat and brown the meat pieces in batches, seasoning with salt and juniper. Be careful not to crowd the pan. Cook each batch about 10 to 15 minutes. Remove the browned meat to a platter. Reduce the heat and add the onion, fresh mushrooms, oregano, and sumac, and sauté until the onion is soft and the mushrooms release some of their liquid, 3 to 5 minutes. Stir in the chopped, reconstituted wild mushrooms and the soaking liquid and the stock, stirring to dislodge any brown bits that stick to the pan.
Return the meat to the pot, bring it to a simmer, and cook, partially covered, until the meat is fork-tender, about 2 hours. Taste and adjust the seasonings. Remove the stew from the heat and let it sit a few minutes before serving.
From The Sioux Chef’s Indigenous Kitchen by Sean Sherman with Beth Dooley (University of Minnesota Press, 2017). Copyright 2017 Ghost Dancer, LLC. All rights reserved. Used by permission of the University of Minnesota Press.