Cherry Bison Stew
Winter goes on for awhile in the west and the usual meat ‘n potato recipes can become a little stale. Bison, cherries, and butternut squash bring three completely different flavors and textures together for a stew that breaks up this boredom. Cherries are my favorite fruit and they only are available fresh for a very short time. I like to freeze a few bags of cherries for later use. Cherry season is just about a half year away so its a perfect time to get a good fix. Combining berries or fruit with a meat was very common fare for native Americans and provided a complete and wholesome meal.
Cherry Bison Stew
1 1/2 lbs bison stew meat
2 shallots minced
1 cup Pinot Noir
1 cup beef stock
1 small butternut squash chopped
10 oz frozen cherries (pitted)
1 tbsp ghee butter
Stew meat usually comes in fairly large chunks so I like to chop each in half again at least which makes for better bites and ties together better with the rest of the ingredients.
Melt ghee butter in large sauce pot or Dutch Oven over med/high heat. Salt meat liberally and add to pot, shaking early on to make sure it does not stick. It may be necessary to cook meat in two batches as to not crowd pot. When you get some nice brown color remove bison from pot and add minced shallot. As soon as it begins to turn brown reduce heat to low and cook about five minutes.
Return meat to pot with wine and stock and cook on low covered for two hours or until fork tender. Any time you take the lid off the pot shake the excess condensed water off into the sink, that’s flavor enhancement.
Add chopped butternut squash and bring up heat a little to reach a light simmer, cook 30 minutes more uncovered. During this time the sauce will thicken.
When squash is cooked and juices are reduced to a thicker consistency use a spoon to remove about a handful of squash and a few spoonfuls of sauce, then smash in a small bowl with the back of a fork and add paste back into stew. Season stew with more salt as necessary. Next add frozen cherries and any juices, cover and remove pot from heat.
An optional step: Slice sage then add it with a small drizzle of olive oil to a small pan and move to already warm burner. Simmer for a few minutes on medium heat getting the sage a little crispy. Let sage sit on paper towel, sprinkle with salt and toss.
Let stew cool for at least 10 minutes total before serving. Top with fresh or cooked sage.