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Dark Days Week 4: Christmas Kale and Sweet Potato Stew - Backyard Grocery

Dark Days Week 4: Christmas Kale and Sweet Potato Stew

kale potato stew with venison

hearty winter stew with local venison, kale, and sweet potatoes

Merry Christmas! It is 6:31 a.m. and I’m the only one awake (at least when I started this…it’s almost 9 now and presents are opened.). Every year I think I’ll sleep in, especially when we don’t have the kids with us. Every year I’m awake at 5:30. Nothing beats Christmas morning! (new slippers and a ruby ring. nice.) While I’m waiting for Rick to wake up to open presents, I thought I’d get a start on my Dark Days Week 4 challenge post. This week I went old school and made stew.

While stews are many people’s go-to recipes, I really don’t make them all that often. Usually when I set out to make a stew, I start with the recipe. I’ll look through all my gazillion cookbooks and favorite food blogs to find flavor combinations that sound good. And that method works.

But I had a pound of venison stew meat that needed cooking. So off I went to MOM’s in search of local winter vegetables. I ended up also going to Harris Teeter, which often has a good selection local produce. At both, I also attempted to find some local grains, but had no luck. Hopefully after the holidays I’ll have time to search around more for the local non-produce items.

Here’s what I ended up with for local stew ingredients:

  • Kale (PA)
  • Sweet potatoes (PA)
  • Onion (PA)
  • Mushrooms (baby bella, oyster, and shitake) (PA)
  • Purple Dragon Carrot (unknown, but labeled local…but I ended up not putting it in the stew)
  • Radish (my garden)
  • Venison (VA)
  • Venison stock (VA)

With that combination of ingredients, I thought a spice blend of cumin, coriander and pepper would be nice…subtle, but just a hint of something. Here is the recipe I devised. It turned out beautifully. As I thought, the cumin and coriander added a tiny kick, but it’s very subtle. The flavors of the kale, sweet potato and venison shine and compliment each other. The radish adds a little surprise kick and the mushrooms provide some texture and earthy flavor. I initially put too much kale in it, and ended up taking about half of it out of the slow cooker. I did not buy new spices for this, but those are the only non-local and/or non-organic ingredients.

Recipe: Kale and Sweet Potato Stew

Summary: a hearty winter vegetable stew, great with venison or beef.


  • 1 Tbs butter (local)
  • 1 lb venison or beef stew meat
  • fresh ground pepper to taste
  • 1 medium onion
  • 1 cup organic red wine
  • 2 sweet potatoes, chopped
  • 2 cups pumpkin puree
  • 5 radishes
  • 2 cups chopped kale
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp coriander
  • 1/4 tsp fresh ground nutmeg
  • 1 TBS kosher salt
  • 2-3 cups venison stock
  • 4 oz mushrooms blend


  1. Pull out the slow cooker for this one.

    prepping the meat

    cube the meat, dry it, and brown in butter.

  2. Cube the stew meat. Dry the meat with a paper towel and pepper generously with freshly ground pepper.
  3. Melt a tablespoon of butter in a skillet over medium high heat. Add the venison and brown on each side. Remove the meat to the slow cooker.

    adding onions

    chop and saute the onions, then add to the slow cooker.

  4. Chop the onion coarsely. Add it to the skillet, scraping up the browned meat pieces while you sauté the onions. Saute until tender.
  5. Add the wine to the onions and let the alcohol cook off and the liquid reduce a bit (one to two minutes). Add the onions to the slow cooker.

    sweet potatoes

    next add the sweet potatoes

  6. Peel the sweet potatoes and chop them into chunks. Remove the kale from the stems and tear leaves into bite sized pieces.

    adding kale

    add the pumpkin, kale, stock and spices then start cooking

  7. Layer the sweet potatoes, pumpkin, radish and kale in the slow cooker. Add the spices and the venison stock. Don’t stir.
  8. Cover and cook on high for an hour.

    adding mushrooms

    cook for an hour then add the mushrooms

  9. Reduce to low and add the mushrooms. Cook for a few more hours, until the potatoes are fork tender.

Preparation time: 25 minute(s)

Cooking time: 3 hour(s)

Number of servings (yield): 8

Copyright © Susan Rose.

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