Ötzi the Ice Man would have worn leather made from the skin of the chamois, a large mountain goat that continues to thrive in Europe’s central mountains all the way from Savoy to the Black Sea.
He would also have eaten the flesh of this tanny wide-eyed alpine animal and trusted its well-trodden trails in the slopes and along the ridges.
He was not the first to follow a chamois trail to safety above the snow line and he won’t be the last. These goats are here to stay, largely because all but one of their predators are gone and the law, for what it is worth, prohibits that predator from doing anything more than gaze in wonder at these timeless beasts.
This disappoints the mountain peoples of the Alps, particularly the Italians, Austrians and Slovenians who love a good chamois roast or stew, who must now import the meat of an animal that lives among them or make do with farmed or road-kill venison.
- 2.5 kg chamois / venison meat
- 1 kg potatoes, quartered
- 500 g onions, chopped
- 250 carrots, diced
- 70 ml sour cream
- 60 g butter / lard
- 1 egg yolk
- 5 garlic cloves, crushed
- 1 bottle red wine
- 1 onion, sliced
- 1 carrot, sliced
- 1 celery stalk, sliced
- 12 juniper berries
- 12 black peppercorns
- 2 bay leaves
- Salt, pinch
Marinade the chamois or venison for 12 hours in a cool place, strain and reserve the liquid, cut the meat into bite-sized pieces.
In a large pot sauté the onions and garlic in butter or lard over a low heat for 30 minutes, add the carrots followed by the marinade liquid, meat and potatoes.
Cook until the meat is tender, about 75 minutes.
Beat the egg yolk into the cream, and stir slowly into the stew, season.