Easy to Make Venison Stew

Scott Leysath |

Beef Squash StewOne of the more memorable meals I had many years ago was at Beringer Vineyards in Napa. They had, or maybe still have, an advanced school for talented chefs. These people could flat out cook some incredible cuisine. I’ll never forget a first course of roasted pumpkin soup topped with boar bacon. It was served in a miniature pumpkin. The entrée that night was a perfectly cooked peppercorn-crusted venison loin topped with cabernet butter. Twenty years later, I can still taste it. Since then, I’ve been a big fan of pairing fall and winter squashes with wild game.

butternut squash on wooden backgroundNow is the time to grab a butternut, acorn or any of the other winter squashes and add it to your stew. When you put it into the pot will depend on which part of the deer you are cooking. Tougher, more sinewy cubed meat from the shoulder will take a couple hours longer to get tender than meat cut from the loin or hindquarter. The more tender the raw meat, the less cooking time. Although I generally save my loins and tenderloins for a preparation that’s hotter and quicker, I’ve had some fairly tough backstraps from old deer that transformed into tender morsels after bathing in stew broth for several hours. If you do happen to add the squash too soon and it gets soft and mushy, just stir it into the broth and it will give it a natural, hearty thickness. Tell your friends you did it that way on purpose.

Serves 6 to 82 tablespoons olive oil

3 – 4 cups venison, trimmed of sinew and silverskin and cut into 1-inch cubes

salt and pepper

1 1/2 cups onion, finely diced

3 cloves garlic, minced

1 14.5 ounce can diced tomatoes

2 tablespoons tomato paste

4 cups beef broth

2 sprigs fresh sage (or rosemary or a pinch or two of dried herb)

2 cups winter squash, cut into 1 to 2-inch chunks

Italian parsley

  1. Heat oil over medium heat in a Dutch oven or heavy pot. Season venison with salt and pepper, add to the pot and brown evenly on all sides. Remove the browned meat and reserve. Add onion and sauté for 3 to 4 minutes. If necessary, add a little more olive oil to the pot before adding onions. Add garlic and sauté for 1 minute. Add diced tomatoes, tomato paste and beef broth. Bring to a boil, add the reserved venison and reduce the heat to low. Cover and simmer for 2 to 3 hours or until meat is tender to the touch, but not falling apart.
  1. Add sage and squash. Cover and cook for 10 – 15 minutes or until squash is done. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

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