Did you know there is a World Championship Pumpkin Chunking competition? And that Discovery Channel airs it on Thanksgiving (8:00 p.m.)? I didnâ€™t know this until a few weeks ago when Rick learned about it while researching something or another. You can see pictures and learn more at the web site, punkinchunkin.org. Not only did I discover the existence of a sporting event where adults build siege weapons and launch squash, I went to it this weekend.
What a blast. Literally. Pumpkins flying out of cannons and everything. The crowds going crazy for all the competitors, thrilled when the pumpkin soars, sad when it fails to launch.
We ended the day with visions of homemade trebuchets in Rickâ€™s head and visions of pumpkin savories and sweets in mine (I was troubled by the amount of perfectly delicious pumpkin that is wasted at this event, but they use a tough Australian variety that Iâ€™ve decided is inedibleâ€¦based on absolutely no evidence at all).
Fortunately, I have a ton of pumpkin in my freezer still, just waiting to be transformed into something delicious. Starting with Venison and Pumpkin Stew.
I found the inspiration for my stew at Suburban Bites in a recipe for a slow cooker lamb and pumpkin stew. I changed it up, created my own marinade and, of course, used venison. Itâ€™s got a nice, mellow earthy flavor that makes you just want to curl up under a blanket and warm you belly. And itâ€™s easy to make!
: Venison, Pumpkin and Cranberry Stew
: a mellow, earthy fall stew for venison
- 1 lb venison stew meat, cubed
- Â¼ cup red wine (a Zinfandel or Pinot Noir)
- 1 tsp ground cumin
- Â½ tsp ground mace
- freshly ground pepper
- 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
- 3-4 lbs of pumpkin, peeled and cubed
- 1 onion chopped
- 3 garlic cloves minced
- 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 2 cups venison stock (if you have it, or substitute beef or chicken stock)
- red wine (not too dry, Zinfandel works really well)
- 1 cup dried cranberries
- Marinate the venison in the wine, cumin, and pepper for Â½ hour to 2 hours.
- Remove venison from the marinade (save the liquid for later) and dry with a paper towel
- Melt the butter in a skillet over medium high heat. Add the venison and brown on all sides. You want it brown, but not cooked through.
- Place the venison in the slow cooker.
- Turn heat to medium and return skillet to stove. Add the onions and saute until just softened.
- Add the marinade to the pan and cook, scraping up all the browned meat.
- Add the onions, garlic and sauce to the slow cooker.
- Layer the chopped pumpkin and spices over the meat and onions.
- Add the stock, and if the liquid looks low, add some red wine.
- Cover and cook on low for about 4 hours, until the meat and pumpkin are fork-tender.
- The stew is fairly dry, but if it looks as though it is getting too dryâ€“add more wine while cooking.
- During the last hour of cooking, stir in the dried cranberries.
How long to marinate the venison depends on how gamey the meat is. If it’s a tender young doe, you can marinate for a shorter time. That big buck? Let it marinate for several hours.
Preparation time: 30 minute(s)
Cooking time: 4 hour(s)
Number of servings (yield): 6
Copyright Â© Susan Rose.