Venison Stew with Butternut Squash and Rainbow Chard

Butternut squash is in season, so we thought we'd make a stew. Coupled with venison, it's the perfect fall dish. Rick and I hope that many of you are finding success on your hunts. We are rifle hunters, so deer season doesn't start until November. We will be flying into Omaha, Nebraska on November 8th, with the rifle opener starting that Saturday on the 10th. With the drought and EHD running rampant among white-tail populations in the Midwest, Rick and I would be lying if we said we weren't nervous. But I suppose that's hunting.

We still haven't figured out what we'd do if we happen to not get any deer this season... what would become of Food for Hunters?! (Cue in dramatic music.)

Anyway, we hope you get a chance to make this dish. Rick said last night, "If only it was cold outside, then this would really hit the spot." Being in Southern California, the weather can be a little bipolar. We are due to hit the 90s this week. And it was so nice last week. We thought it would finally cool down. It almost felt like fall. 

Servings: 4
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cooking Time: 2.5 hours
- 2 tbs. olive oil
- 1 onion, peeled and diced
- 2 cloves of garlic, minced
- 2 tsp. of dried rosemary, chopped
- 1/4 tsp. dried thyme
- 1/4 tsp. ground nutmeg
- 1/4 tsp. dried sage
- 1 lb. of venison stew meat, cleaned and cut into 1 1/2-inch cubes
- sea salt, to taste
- freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- 1 1/2 tbs. of all-purpose flour
- 1 cup of dry red wine
- 1 large russet potato (or 2 small), peeled and diced
- half of a medium butternut squash, peeled and cut into 1.5-inch cubes (about 1 1/2 pounds)
- 2 tbs. of sun dried tomatoes, chopped
- 4 cups of low-sodium beef broth
- half a bunch of rainbow chard
- 2 tbs. Italian flat-leaf parsley, chopped
- crusty bread, for serving

1. Toss cubed venison with salt and pepper, to taste. Coat evenly with 1.5 tbs of flour. 
In a Dutch oven, heat 2 tbs. of olive oil over medium-high heat. Brown venison until its golden brown at the edges. Remove venison and set aside. 
2. Next, lower heat to medium. Add the onion, garlic, 2 tsp. of rosemary, 1/4 tsp. of thyme and a pinch of salt. Cook until onion is translucent, about 3-5 minutes. Stir often. 
Return venison to pot. Then, add a cup of red wine. Bring to a simmer. With a wooden spoon, loosen brown bits off the bottom. Next, add 2 tbs. of chopped sun dried tomatoes. 
You can use regular sun dried tomatoes or tomatoes packed in oil. We used packed in oil. 
3. Remove the hard stalks that run along the leaves of rainbow chard. Cut into small pieces. Add to the pot. Then add diced potatoes and 4 cups of beef broth. 

Stir in 1/4 tsp. each of nutmeg and sage. Cover and simmer for 1.5 hours, or until meat becomes tender. 
Reserve rainbow chard leaves for later. Chard is highly perishable. They don't last long in the fridge. If your chard wilts, like ours did, perk them up in ice water for a couple of minutes. Then drain. 

Pretty butternut squash. Rick has had it before, but this was my first time. 
Meanwhile, cut ends off the butternut squash. Then peel. Cut in half lengthwise and remove seeds/pulp. Store the half you won't use in the fridge, wrapped in plastic wrap. 
Cut the other half into large 1.5-inch chunks. Give the reserved rainbow chard leaves a rough chop. 
4. After 1.5 hours, add the butternut squash and rainbow chard to the pot. Everything should be fairly submerged.
Cover and simmer for an additional 20-30 minutes, or until squash is tender. If desired, uncover the pot towards the end to thicken up the stew.

Add salt and pepper, to taste. Stir in chopped parsley.
Serve with crusty bread. YUM!!