Ground Veal Stuffed Acorn Squash

Ground Veal Stuffed Acorn Squash (Serves 2.5)

Dairy farmers rejoice when their cows give birth to girls because girl cows are valuable additions to the herd. The birth of boy cows is unwelcome because boys are largely an unproductive burden. Male dairy cows are second-rate beef producers and don’t produce milk, so they are hardly worth the cost of feed. Moreover, male dairy cows tend to become obnoxious as they age, so slaughtering them young is the sensible thing to do. The idea of slaughtering a young male cow might seem cruel, but the farmers who work with dairy cows are sensible about such things as I learned from reading The Dirty Life: On Farming, Food, and Love by Kristin Kimball. The book, by the way, is a powerful story that touched me in a variety of ways and left me hungrier than ever for organic foods.

The meat of cows slaughtered young is called veal and animal welfare advocates have convinced many people to feel guilty about eating it. I went to the grocery store and bought a pound of ground veal the day I finished reading The Dirty Life. Veal tastes good and I don’t feel guilty about making the best possible use of a male dairy cow since I learned to think like a farmer. This basic recipe could work with any ground meat, but I am happy to share with you my recipe for Ground Veal Stuffed Acorn Squash.

Prep and cook time: 70 minutes

Ingredients:

1 big acorn squash
1 pound ground veal
1 small sweet yellow onion
Coconut oil
1 6 ounce can tomato paste
Red chili powder
Dried oregano
Garlic powder
Black pepper
Celery salt
Paprika
Salt

Directions: Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees. Slice acorn squash in half from stem to end rather than across the diameter. Scoop out seeds and soft insides. Place squash on a baking sheet with cut ends facing up and season with salt, garlic powder, and paprika. Be sure to use plenty of salt. Place in the oven and bake undisturbed for 30 minutes. Meanwhile, melt 1 tablespoon of coconut oil in a large skillet over medium heat and finely chop the onion. Brown the veal in the hot oil, breaking it up with a wooden spoon or spatula (10 to 12 minutes). Season with a dusting of salt, celery salt, garlic powder, dried oregano, red chili powder, paprika, and black pepper. Remove the veal with a slotted spoon and set aside. Add onion to the skillet with the veal juices and let cook 5 or 6 minutes until soft, stirring occasionally. Stir tomato paste in with the onion and season with salt, garlic powder, black pepper, and oregano. After cooking the tomato paste and onion together a few minutes, return the browned veal to the skillet and mix everything together. Let the veal get hot again and then taste the mixture. Add spices as needed to achieve the flavor you like. Turn off heat under skillet. After the acorn squash has baked for 30 minutes, pull them from the oven and add the ground veal to the open cavities of the halves. Mound it up a bit, but you will probably have some leftover. Return the acorn squash now stuffed with ground veal to the 400 degree oven and bake undisturbed for another 30 minutes. When the time is up, pull from the oven, transfer to plates or bowls, and eat!

Notes: The leftover ground veal makes a good snack to eat while you wait for the squash to finish baking.

My recipe for ground veal was inspired by Sandwich King Jeff Mauro’s recipe for Greek Tacos. I used a lot more tomato paste than he called for because I didn’t want to save the leftovers from a 6 ounce can after I opened it.

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