Monday, October 19, 2009

Spicy Venison & Pumpkin Stew

This is my version of a savory beef & pumpkin stew from Rodale's Basic Natural Foods Cookbook. You can use beef instead of the venison, if you prefer. This recipe makes 4 hearty servings.

1/2 Tbs vegetable or canola oil
1/2 Tbs bacon grease (if you prefer a lower fat stew, simply use 1 full Tbs of oil and omit the bacon grease)
1 1/2 lbs venison cut into 1-inch cubes
1 large onion, chopped
1 celery stalk with leaves, chopped
1 small bell pepper, diced
1 to 2 jalapeno peppers, diced (you can de-seed to reduce the heat)
1 1/2 cups boiling water (you can substitute up to 1/2 cup with beef broth for richer flavor)
2 lbs pumpkin, peeled & cut into large chunks (the weight of the pumpkin chunks should be 2 lbs, so the original whole pumpkin needs to weigh more)
2 Tbs dry white wine
1/8 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1/8 tsp ground red pepper or cayenne pepper
Dash (or more) of hot sauce (a simple pepper sauce works better than one with many ingredients)
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
1/4 tsp ground mace (if you don't have mace, simply increase the amount of nutmeg to 1/2 tsp)
1/4 tsp allspice
1/4 tsp ground cardamom
Salt to taste
1 Tbs cornstarch, dissolved in 1/4 cup cold water
2 Tbs chopped fresh parsley
Optional: 1/4 cup toasted pumpkin seeds
Optional: 1/2 to 3/4 cup cooked rice (white or brown) or cooked barley

Heat the oil and bacon grease in a large deep skillet (cast iron is perfect) or in a Dutch oven over medium-high heat, and brown the venison or beef on all sides. Add the onion, celery, bell pepper and jalapeno pepper, stir and keep sauteeing until the onions are golden brown. Add the boiling water and cover, reduce heat and simmer for 45 minutes. Add the pumpkin, wine, hot sauce and spices, stir well and bring back to a simmer. Cover and cook for an additional 30 minutes or until the meat and pumpkin are tender. Add the cornstarch mixture and parsley, continue cooking while stirring constantly until the stew thickens and bubbles, then simmer 3 more minutes. Add pumpkin seeds and/or rice or barley if using, stir well, then add salt to taste. Serve hot.

Zestfully yours,

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