The “Venison” Stew from The Last of Us

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Desperate times call for deserate measures. Meat can be hard to come by in the world of The Last of Us – so much so that you have to make due with… whatever you have available. No matter how seemingly gross it may be.

At the commune located at Silver Lake, you may want to skip the “venison” stew. But of course, if you don’t eat, you may starve yourself; meaning, you’re next on the menu.

In the episode, the woman in the kitchen carefully asks “what is it” referring to the mystery meat in the tupperware container that she has just been presented.

Venison” is the response – though the viewer already knows, this is almost certainly NOT deer meat.

She grabs the mystery meat by the handful and plops it into the broth completely raw – and it was about at this point I about turned off the episode while shouting: “YOU’RE NOT EVEN GOING TO SEAR IT FIRST?!?!”

I refuse to believe that twenty-something years post-apocalypse that society just completely forgot about searing meat. Humans have literally been cooking meat this way for thousands, if not millions of years.

Chop that lady up instead – she’s the real one committing food crimes against her commune here.

So if the world ends due to a mushroom infestation, stick with me kids. If we’re going to be eating people, we might as well do it right.

Why do we sear meat first?

Anyone who has ever cooked a steak (or meat of any kind, really) and given it a nice, golden brown sear is already familiar with the benefits of searing meat.

Searing the meat creates a chemical reaction called the Maillard Reaction which in short is when the amino acids and sugars are reduced to create a browning effect and releases aroma. This reaction happens in everything from baking cupcakes and bread to searing steak and frying eggs. It also locks in the juices of meats, preventing the meat from drying out as it cooks.

Without searing the meat before adding it into the stew will create a very chewy and stringy meat that definitely will be less appetizing than if it was cooked correctly.

While doing it the way in the show isn’t technically wrong, if you’re going to be serving up your commune, you can at least make it taste marginally better by searing it first.

What was in the soup in the Last of Us then?

Well… the better question to be asking is: “Who?” In the game and TV show the meat is actually… other members of the commune.

  • broth or stock – definitely made from animals and not humans
  • “venison” meat – fresh game meat works best in this recipe
  • canned potatoes, peas & carrots – canned veggies for post-apocalypic cooking
  • shallot & garlic – fresh from the root cellar or foraged from the forest (or grocery store)
  • crushed tomatoes in sauce – to build up the base of the stew and add flavor to cover up the human-y undertones
  • herb bundle – foraged herbs from the forest or dried from last season (mine had marjoram and thyme)

In this recipe we’re using commercially available meat and hopefully not any of our loved ones. And I’m actually not using venison either – but the mystery is what makes this recipe delicious.

What fictional feasts should I make next? Head on over to TikTok and let me know – or leave a comment below!

The “Venison” Stew from The Last of Us

The Starving Chef
Making the "venison" stew at the Silver Lake commune from The Last of Us – cannibalism not required.
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour
Total Time 1 hour 15 minutes
Course Fictional Feasts
Cuisine Dinner, Soup, Television
Servings 8


  • 32 oz stewing meat venison, bison, beef chuck, etc
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 15 oz canned potatoes drained
  • 15 oz canned peas & carrots drained
  • 2 tablespoons shallot diced
  • 1 tablespoon garlic minced
  • 28 oz crushed tomatoes in puree
  • 2 cups broth or stock chicken, beef, etc.
  • 1 herb bundle thyme, marjoram, oregano, etc.
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon pepper


  • In a large soup pot or Dutch oven, heat the vegetable oil until shimmery then add the stew meat. Stir to sear the meat on all sides, until it is just starting to brown or about 2-3 minutes. There should still be streaks of uncooked meat throughout. Season with salt and pepper.
  • Add in the canned potatoes and continue to stir until the potatoes are browned and mixed into the meat. Then stir in the shallot and garlic and saute until fragrant, about 2-3 more minutes.
  • Stir in the drained peas and carrots. Try not to mash up the vegetables too much as you stir.
  • Then add in the canned tomatoes. Stir until everything is combined, then pour in the broth. Toss in the herb bundle and then bring to a rolling simmer.
  • Simmer the stew until mostly thickened, about 45-55 minutes, stirring occasionally to prevent burning. Reduce the temp to low and continue to stir for another 5-10 minutes.
  • Once thickened, serve the stew to the unsuspecting members of your commune. Enjoy!
Keyword stew, tomatoes, venison
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