This venison lentil stew is made with ground deer meat, red lentils, tomatoes and spinach. Make it in the Instant Pot, slow cooker or stovetop!
When a friend gave us some venison recently, the very first thing we did with it was make venison chili.
With the lean, firm meat, the savory seasoning, and addition of beans, peppers, and beer, it was a perfect combination.
But then I started thinking about what other kind of stew would be delicious with venison. And the campfire red lentil stew that I make sprang to mind.
It was a recipe that translated well when I made it with fish, so I thought, why not adapt it to meat as well? And since we can't always be outside cooking over a campfire (unfortunately), this time I used an Instant Pot.
Don't have an Instant Pot? No worries: it's also easy to prepare in a slow cooker or on the stovetop!
This stew features ground deer meat, red lentils, tomatoes, and spinach, and simmers until the meat is tender. It's ready in about 40 minutes!
What Does Venison Taste Like?
Deer meat has a reputation for having a strong or gamey flavor.
And while that can be true (depending on how it was processed), it's not always the case.
At any rate, the seasonings in this stew and the acidity of the tomatoes can help to balance out any strong flavor in the meat! So don't hesitate to try it if you've got some on hand.
Venison is a rather lean and firm meat. If you need to swap in some other type of meat, ground turkey would be a good option.
How to Make Venison Lentil Stew
If you're using an Instant Pot, start by adding oil. Press the sauté button and adjust the temperature to normal.
If you're preparing this stew on the stovetop, add oil to a large pot over medium-high heat. (If you prefer to use a slow cooker, check the recipe card for notes.)
Then add the onions, venison, and spices. Let them cook until the onions are soft and the meat is beginning to brown.
Next, add tomatoes and cook the mixture for 2 or 3 minutes, until it comes to a gentle simmer.
Next, add lentils and water.
Now is a good time to scrape around the bottom of the pan to check for any food bits that have gotten stuck.
Add the spinach, and let it cook until wilted. Give it an occasional stir as it's cooking.
Spinach takes up a lot of room in the pot before it cooks down, so add it in small batches as needed until you can fit it all in!
If you're cooking on the stovetop, simply cover the stew now and let it simmer on low heat for about 30 minutes.
If you're using the Instant Pot, press the 'cancel' button. The next step is to pressure cook the stew.
Set the Instant to pressure cook/manual, high pressure. Set the cook time for 20 minutes.
After 5 or 10 minutes, the Instant Pot will come to pressure. At that point you'll see it start to count down the cooking time.
When it beeps to indicate it is finished, do a quick-release of the pressure. To do this, use a long-handled implement like a wooden spoon to turn the valve.
The spinach will probably all be at the top of the stew, so give it a good stir to blend everything together.
Then serve your venison lentil stew while it's hot. (Maybe with some warm, buttery slices of sourdough bread.) Dig in, and enjoy!
Venison Lentil Stew
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 onion, thinly sliced
- 1 pound ground venison If frozen, thaw before using. Optionally, swap ground turkey
- 2 teaspoons chili powder
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 teaspoons sea salt
- 15 ounce can diced tomatoes
- 1 cup red lentils
- 3 ½ cups water
- 8 ounces fresh spinach Or use 14-ounces canned spinach, drained
Instant Pot Version:
- Add oil to the Instant Pot. Press the sauté button. Press the adjustable temperature setting until it reads normal.Add the onions, venison and spices. Cook until the onions soften and the meat begins to brown.
- Add tomatoes to the pot and cook 2-3 minutes until the tomatoes begin to simmer.
- Add lentils and water to the Instant Pot. As you pour the water, scrape the bottom of the pot to loosen any bits of food that stuck to the pot.
- Add the spinach and stir occasionally until the spinach wilts into the stew. You may need to work in batches to fit all of the spinach.
- Press the cancel button. Set Instant Pot to pressure cook/manual, high pressure. Set the cook time for 20 minutes.The Instant Pot will take about 5-10 minutes to come to pressure, depending on how hot the liquid is, and then will start counting down the cook time. (If the broth was hot when you added it, the Instant Pot will seal quickly.)The Instant Pot will beep to let you know the cook time has finished.Carefully quick-release the remaining pressure by using the handle of a long spoon (I use a wooden spoon) to turn the steam valve to venting.
- When you open the lid, the spinach will be settled at the top. Stir the stew to incorporate the spinach.Serve hot.
- Heat olive oil in a large pot over medium-high heat.Add the onions, venison and spices. Cook until the onions soften and the meat begins to brown.Add tomatoes to the pot and cook 2-3 minutes until the tomatoes begin to simmer.
- Add lentils and water to the pot. Add the spinach and stir occasionally until the spinach wilts into the stew. You may need to work in batches to fit all of the spinach.Simmer covered on low heat for about 30 minutes. The long simmer will help improve the texture of the meat.Serve hot.