Over a week ago I made a substantial batch of fresh pumpkin butter (pictured above) out of a few pre-Halloween pie pumpkins we bought from a local farm. My family grew up making pumpkin butter at least every other autumn. For two days our house was filled with the smells of pumpkin pie spices. We invited friends and family to help us can dozens of pints of the sweet and spreadable deliciousness (best on made-from-scratch biscuits).
I'm sorry, but I won't be giving out my family's secret pumpkin butter recipe anytime soon, but I do have a great recipe I'll be using soon because I have a few leftover pumpkins. This recipe comes from a 2001 issue of Sports Afield.
Hunter's Stew with Baked Pumpkin
1 lb. of venison, cut in 1" cubes and dusted with flour (but any red game meat can be substituted)
1 lb. duck thighs, boned and cut in 1" cubes and dusted with flour (I'm going to use ruffed grouse)
1/2 lb. pork loin cut in 1" cubes and dusted with flour
1/2 lb. of your favorite spicy sausage cut in 1/4-1/2" chunks
1/2 lb. sweet butter
1 Tbl. minced garlic
1 large onion, minced
3 celery stalks, chopped
1 c. red wine
1 c. beef or chicken broth
1 c. peeled potato, cut in 1/4" cubes
1 c. turnips, cut in 1/4" cubes
1 c. rutabaga, cut in 1/4" cubes
1 c. baby carrots
1 c. peas (fresh or frozen)
16 oz. stewed tomatoes
2 bay leaves
1/2 tsp. dried basil
1/4 tsp. dried oregano
2 Tbl. brown sugar
2 tsp. salt
2 c. raw pumpkin (or squash) cut in 1" cubes
1/4 lb. butter
1/4 c. maple syrup (or honey)
Directions for Stew:
In a large stock pot, melt butter and brown venison, duck and pork, separately. Set meat aside and saute onion, celery and garlic for five minutes. Add wine and stock to deglaze the pan. After bringing liquid to a boil, add the browned meats and sausage. Reduce heat and simmer, covered, for 20 minutes. Add remaining ingredients and simmer, covered, for an additional 1 1/2 to 2 hours. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
Serve in bowls or over buttered noodles. Garnish with Baked Pumpkin.
Directions for Baked Pumpkin:
Begin preparing pumpkin 30 minutes before the stew is finished. Preheat oven to 300 degrees F. In a large saucepan, melt butter and add maple syrup. Bring to a slow boil and then add pumpkin cubes. Remove from heat and transfer to a buttered, covered casserole dish and bake in oven for 20 minutes.
Serves six to eight generously.