Monday, February 1, 2016

Cheesy Venison-Stuffed Squash Boats

We did another experiment in the kitchen this weekend, and it worked!  Jake will never get tired of exclaiming 'hypothesis supported!' after a successful culinary trial (and Katie will probably never get tired of hearing it, because that sort of thing never gets old).  In any case, this one will help us make sure we use up our winter squash before spring. 

These guys were our squash of choice.  We didn't know the variety until we looked it up, but they appear to be Delicata-type specimens.

We cut 'em in half and scooped out the seeds, then set them in about 0.5" water in a cookie sheet to bake at 350 °F for 30-40 min.

Meanwhile, we cooked up a batch of brown rice + wild rice.  This is way too much to stuff into just those squash.  We should have actually started the rice first because it took longer to cook than the squash.  Diced potatoes are an acceptable substitute for rice, if preferred.

While the rice and squash were cooking, we sauteed up some venison chops, then diced them.  Pro tip: when they're cut into small pieces, taste testing is more socially acceptable.

When the squash-ispheres were done (easily pierced by a fork), we seasoned them up with salt, pepper, garlic powder, onion powder, basil and rosemary.  The same seasonings went on the rice, and on the venison, while cooking.

Then we stuffed the squash full to bursting with rice and venison cubes, and covered each one with a generous helping of cheese.

A few minutes back in the oven to make everything melty and delicious, and we're good to go!

As it turns out, the amount of time it takes to make the cheese appropriately melty is roughly the same as it takes to make a fruit salad--apple, orange, banana (one each), pineapple (half a pint jar), and vanilla yogurt (1 cup).  Goes well with black raspberry wine.  One whole squash is a good serving if you're really hungry or it's a smaller squash (maybe up to 1.5 lbs? We didn't weigh them, unfortunately.)

The recipe:
Two winter squash, 1-1.5 lbs each, cut in half and cleaned of seeds
1 cup cooked rice (or thereabouts)
0.5 lb sauteed venison chops
1 Tbs butter
Salt, pepper, garlic powder, onion powder, dried basil, dried rosemary to taste

Start rice cooking (we used 0.5 cup brown rice + 0.5 cup wild rice in 3 cups water).  Set squash halves cut side down on a cookie sheet in a half inch of water and roast at 350 °F for 30-40 min.  Season venison with salt, pepper, garlic powder, onion powder, basil, and rosemary to taste, and sauté in butter. When cooked to preference, dice. 

When rice is done, season it with the same seasonings.  When squash is tender enough to be easily penetrated by a fork, remove from oven, flip skin-side down, and season it similarly.  Stuff squash with rice and venison, and top with shredded cheese.  Return to oven until cheese is melty.  While waiting, make fruit salad and pour wine.  Cancel plans for rest of evening, enjoy meal and postprandial somnolence.

What's your favorite winter squash recipe this time of year?

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