Venison Stew with Brandy Cream Sauce from The Lion and the Rose by Kate Quinn

Venison in Cream and Brandy Sauce | Taking On Magazines |

I would hate to have to come up with a meal for the most influential man in the world. That may be one of the reasons that I have adored Kate Quinn’s historical fiction books about the life of Pope Alexander VI, one of the most powerful men. Ever.

If you’ll recall, I’ve shared about Kate’s work before.  Several months ago, I made Elderflower Frittelle and Vanilla Sugared Biscotti, both from The Serpent and the Pearl. The book followed many characters, but my favorite is Carmelina, cook to Guilia Farnese, the Pope’s paramour. Not only does Carmelina manage to keep the kitchen running smoothly, but her creations for the Venus of the Vatican rival the foods of the Pope’s kitchens themselves.

In the early part of the second book, The Lion and the Rose, Carmelina is charged with creating ‘peasant food’ for a visiting Duke and his friends. As she wisely surmises, the rich menu she comes up with is ‘how lordlings think peasants eat’ and now what would actually be on their table.

Included is a stew of venison, using a stag that was brought in by the very same Duke that Carmelina is planning to feed.

The Process

This recipe is taken from Bartolomeo Scappi’s cookbook, Opera dell’arte del cucinare. I followed the directions exactly and was pleased with how easily the stew came together.

Since venison can be gamey and somewhat tough, it’s best to marinate the meat for as long as possible. The recipe suggests three days.

The Verdict

Absolutely delicious. The venison was fork-tender and delicious. The flavor was fantastic and not at all gamey. I have not always had the best of luck with preparing venison so I am thrilled to find this recipe. Hubby felt the same way. He loved this.

The recipe suggested serving the stew over polenta, but since we don’t like it (sorry to all my Italian friends), I made Parmesan mashed potatoes instead.

Venison in Cream and Brandy Sauce from The Lion and the Rose by Kate Quinn
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
adapted from Bartolomeo Scappi's recipe in The Lion and the Rose by Kate Quinn
Reviewed by:
Recipe type: Main
Cuisine: Italian
Serves: 6
  • 1 small Italian parsley
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 4 cloves
  • 1 thyme sprig
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 4 juniper berries
  • 4 pounds boneless venison shank or shoulder, cut into 1-inch cubes
  • Black pepper
  • 2 cups dry red wine
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 1 onion, minced
  • 1 carrot, minced
  • 1 celery stalk, minced
  • ½ extra virgin olive oil
  • ¾ cup grappa or brandy
  • ¼ cup flour
  • 4 plum tomatoes, seeded, peeled, and diced
  • 2 cups beef broth
  • ½ cup heavy cream
  • Polenta
  • ¼ cup Parmesan
  • Rosemary sprigs for garnish
  1. Tie first six ingredients in a cheesecloth bag. Place in a large bowl, and add the venison, garlic, onion, carrot, celery, salt, pepper, and wine. Cover and refrigerate for three days, tossing every eight hours.
  2. Remove venison from marinade and blot dry; reserve marinade and cheesecloth bundle. Heat olive oil in saute pan over medium high, and cook the venison and any clinging vegetables until browned all over, about 10 minutes total.
  3. Deglaze pan with ½ cup of grappa. When the grappa evaporates (about 3 minutes), stir in the flour and cook for 5 minutes, stirring. Add the reserved liquid from the marinade, the cheesecloth bundle, tomatoes, and broth. Bring to a boil, cover, and cook over medium-low for two hours, or until tender, adding broth if needed. Pour in the cream and the remaining quarter cup of grappa; cook 5 minutes, uncovered. Discard cheesecloth bundle.
  4. Meanwhile, make polenta. When polenta is ready, stir in butter and Parmesan. Serve venison hot, mounded over polenta and garnished with rosemary.


Be sure to check out the rest of the dishes that are a part of Kate’s virtual potluck party for The Lion and the Rose’s book release.

Inn At The Crossroad: Roman-Style Tenderloin

Island Vittles: Potato Chips and Candied Walnuts

Little White Apron: Salad of Blood Orange, Fennel, and Olives and Beef en Brochette

Lost Past Remembered: Fish Pie Flavored with Oranges, Nutmeg and Dates

Taking On Magazines: Venison Stew with Brandy Cream Sauce and Tortellini with Basil and Parsley Filling

Between The Sheets: Endives Stuffed with Cheese and Drizzled in Olive Oil and  Pastries Layered with Honey and Blood Oranges

Kate Quinn: Tourte of Walnuts and Pecorino Cheese