I have been given some bear meat, in the form of stew meat. I don't want to ruin something that I will probably never get again ~ any ideas what I should do with it?
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Stew meat of any type is usually fairly tough, so I would cook it for a loooonnnng time, similar to how you'd cook venison. If you make it like a beef stew with the usual stuff... mire poix, tomatoes, red wine, bay leaf, etc.... and cook it for 3-4 hours on very low heat, it will fall apart and be delicious. And the longer you cook it the less "gamey" it becomes.
Yep, if it's labeled "stew meat", braise it as you would beef chuck. The procedure simultaneously resolves any issues with trichinosis.
Bear meat is in a category of its own. It is possible the two answers before have not dealt with wild meat.
Assuming the beat was shot and butchered recently, not just out of hibernation and had the opportunity to feed, you have a beginning of a fatty and pungent piece of meat.
Or cover the taste with a lot of spices and/or tomato sauce.
Have hunted (for family eating, not sport) a lot of wild game and bear meat is not great.
It's also possible at least one of the answerers is also a life-long hunter. Yes, fat can be an issue as can "gaminess", depending upon a number of factors such as what the animal was eating and how the meat was handled after the kill.
Excess fat should render out during browning and the braise. A lot of "off" flavors are oil-soluble and can be improved with a 24-hour marinade if necessary / desired.
A quick search of the Russian internet (they still eat a lot of bear there, even after the recent trich scares) reveals two classic Siberian preparations:
1. let it sit in a heavily-spiced, vinegar-based marinade for 3 days, then stew it in a stock made from bear bones (sound great, right? - I'm guessing pork bones would be closest) with veg, cool it, then bread and deep-fry chunks of it; kind of like deep-fried chunks of sauerbraten, I guess;
2. grind it up and make garlicy meatballs out of it. For a gross-looking pic of the latter, see: http://eda-recepty.com/cooking/4495-kotletj-iz-medvezhatinj Never tried bear myself, but I trust the Russians on this - their cuisine is often very good at rendering the inedible delicious.