Friday, March 15, 2013

Venison Steaks and Stuffed Acorn Squash

 First of all I feel the need to clear my reputation. Just because my recent post was a vegan recipe, it doesn't mean I've gone vegan. We straight on that?

In fact our most recent grilled meal included delicious venison from the doe pictured here, which my dad killed back in November. I've got over 20 lbs of venison in the freezer. When I announced I was going cook some of the deer meat, my wife was motivated to find something hearty to eat instead--er--I mean go WITH it.

We tried stuffed acorn squash. She discovered this recipe
Here's what you need:
  • 4 acorn squash, halved lengthwise; seeds and membrane removed 
  • 1 cup organic brown rice
  • 1/2 cup wild rice (we used only wild rice)
  • 4 cups vegetable broth or water
  • 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 3/4 cup diced celery
  • 1/2 cup pecans, coarsely chopped (you may use any nut of your preference)
  • 1/2 cup dried apricots, diced
  • 1/2 cup cranberries
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 2-1/2 teaspoon ground ginger (we used fresh)
  • 1/8 teaspoon each ground black pepper
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cardamom
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
So guess what? It's daggum hard to split an acorn squash. Hard, but fortunately, not impossible. Otherwise there wouldn't me much more to say on the matter of eating acorn squash.

So here's what you do:

1. Preheat oven to 375º F.
2. Cook both varieties of rice together in broth or water with ¼ teaspoon of salt (omit salt if broth is already salted).
3. Meanwhile, place squash halves, cut side down, into a large shallow baking dish or cookie sheet (you may need two). Bake for 30 minutes. 

[We did need two baking surfaces. One was the oven (yawn). The other was the Big Green Egg (yesss).]

4. In a skillet, sauté onion in olive oil until it becomes transparent. Add the celery and sauté a couple of minutes. Remove from heat. Using a large mixing bowl, blend this mixture together with the cooked rice, cranberries, nuts, apricots, and remaining seasonings.
5. When done, remove the partially baked squash from the oven. Spoon out some of the cooked squash and mix it with the rest of the ingredients. Be sure to scrape only a little; you want to leave squash in the shells, too.
6. Press the rice mixture into each squash cavity, mounding rice as much as possible. (Depending on how large the squash are, you may end up with some leftover rice mixture, which makes a great side dish by itself.)
7. Cover with aluminum foil and bake for 30 minutes or until squash flesh is thoroughly tender.

Pretty tasty-looking stuffing if you ask me.

So I thought it looked like we were cooking up some crazy turtles or something.
After 30 minutes we stuffed the squash. Some of them went back in the oven. Others, back on the Egg. All of them cooked another 30 minutes.

Once the squash was done, I took out the plate setter and opened it up the Egg to get it good and hot for the venison.
Right so the venison. All I did was spray it with olive oil and season it up with some sea salt and fresh-ground pepper. Then I cooked it to an internal temp of 165f after searing it on both sides.
And there we have it. I mean dang. This was a great meal. The venison really has terrific flavor. It's not at all gamey. And it's not jacked full of antibiotics or hormones. It's just a very tasty, flavorful, clean food. Superb. I even snuck some nibbles to the kids without telling them what it was. They snapped it up with enthusiasm.
The acorn squash was great too. It had a very savory quality, punctuated by the sweet and tanginess of the cranberries. The ginger and apricot did a lot to give this a really nice taste too. It felt like some sort of druid feast of the forest or something. But it was one of those meals when I pushed back from the table I found myself very contented and pleased.

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