Even before the western part of Virginia broke away from the state in 1861 to form a separate Union government, frontier settlers, who depended heavily on wild game for survival, organized church and civic get-togethers called “soups” or “stews,” where everybody contributed some corn, potatoes, onions, and various meats to a huge stew pot. Today, in the mountain regions dotted with isolated cabins and low-income housing, small communities continue to celebrate wild game, huckleberry, maple sugar, and pumpkin seasons by throwing a festive “soup” or “stew,” and in the most remote areas of the state (as in the mountains of North Carolina and Tennessee), it’s not unusual to see a little illegal moonshine being poured.
In a bowl, combine the flour, salt and pepper, and cayenne pepper and dredge the venison in the mixture, tapping off any excess flour. In a large, heavy pot, melt the butter over moderately high heat, add the venison, and brown on all sides. Add the vermouth and jelly and stir well, scraping any browned bits off the bottom of the pot. Add the celery, thyme, rosemary, bay leaf, cloves, and broth, reduce the heat to a low simmer, cover, and cook 1 hour. Add the potatoes, onions, carrots, parsnips, and salt and pepper to taste, return to a simmer, cover, and cook till the venison is very tender, about 1 hour longer, adding more broth if necessary.
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