How to Make Venison Tsigariasto
It’s pronounced cigar-ashto. It’s braised neck meat with pearl onions and white wine. And it’s delicious
THIS IS a beautiful—and beautifully simple—dish inspired by an age-old goat preparation from the Mediterranean island of Crete. In traditional tsigariasto, cleavered chunks of bone-in goat meat are slowly braised with spring onions, oregano, olive oil, and just a splash of white wine—the succulent bone marrow infusing the braising liquid as it bubbles. To achieve that same effect, we use the often-disregarded venison neck, cleavered or sawed into 3-inch pieces—but bone-in chunks from any part of the deer are welcome here. (If CWD is a concern, use boneless stew meat.) Have some crusty bread on hand for sopping up the liquid.
- 2–2½ lbs. venison neck, bone-in, cleavered into roughly 3-inch pieces
- 3 Tbsp. olive oil
- 14 oz. bag frozen pearl onions
- 2 tsp. dried oregano
- 1 cup dry white wine
- 6 sprigs fresh oregano
- Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
1. Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Generously season the venison with salt and pepper.
2. In a Dutch oven or large lidded pot, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat. Add about half the venison, taking care not to crowd the pan, and brown the meat for about 8 minutes, turning frequently, until richly colored. Remove to a plate and repeat with the remaining venison.
3. Add the onions. (Stand back, as they may splatter.) Using a wooden spoon, stir the onions while scraping the bottom of the pan to release any of the browned bits. Cook until golden, about 4 minutes. Add the dried oregano and stir for another 30 seconds or so.
4. Add the wine, and keep stirring as it comes to a boil. Let it boil for a minute or so, to reduce a bit, then return the meat to the pot. Drape the fresh oregano sprigs over the meat, cover, and transfer the pot to the oven.
5. Cook for about 1½ hours, or until the meat is very tender. Serve immediately. Feeds four
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