Saturday, October 27, 2012

Autumnal Stuffed Squash

Nights like this I really enjoy, because the house is quiet and dinner can be a slow, unhurried affair.  Bear won’t be home until much later in the evening, and I can take my time to prepare dinner and experiment with a new recipe I found, or one I decided to make up.  I picked up an acorn squash while grocery shopping even though I had never prepared one before and couldn’t recall eating one.  A quick Google search pointed me towards butter and brown sugar.  That seemed like a good starting point and so off to the pantry to see what else might be lurking.  Raisins, dried cranberries, where are those pecans?  Oh yeah, they went into the bacon bourbon pecan pie and praline chicken.  Walnuts it is then!  

My Gram taught me a lot about cooking, and she never really measured anything (unless she was baking) – it was always an approximate guess as to how much of any given thing we were throwing into the pot.  Since we can’t be in my kitchen together, I did a pictorial step by step instead.  Because I love you that much, but not enough to show you pictures of my ancient oven, which I preheated at 400 degrees. 

Carving Acorn squash is a lot like carving a pumpkin – use the tip of your knife and push in to start it.  

Then bring the rest of the knife down and around the whole she-bang.

Use a spoon to scoop out the pulp and seeds.  If you love acorn squash, consider saving some of those seeds to dry out & plant.  

Score the squash with the tip of your knife taking care not to cut all the way through the skin.

Now it’s ready for some really good stuff!  Meet our co-conspirators: raisins, cranberries, and walnuts.  They heard it was a party, so they brought their good friends sea salt cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger (she was camera shy) brown sugar, and black pepper.  I like to pre-soak the raisins in hot water so they plump up and don’t dry out during baking.   About 10-15 minutes will do it.  They’re relaxing in their hot bath in this picture.

Drain the raisins, and add about 2 healthy tablespoons of butter, and melt in the microwave.  Obviously, by healthy tablespoons I mean heaping.  Butter’s not healthy, but it’s oh so good. 
While the butter is melting, I like to mix about 1/3 of a cup of brown sugar with my spices to ensure they’re all evenly distributed.  Reserve about a quarter of the brown sugar and spice mixture, and add in the rest of your sugar to the melted butter and raisins, then add the cranberries and walnuts.

How yummy does that look?  Seriously, look at all that goodness swimming in butter and brown sugar!

Fill the squash with the mixture.  It's OK if you get some syrup on the squash, it likes that.  

Pour a 1/4 cup of water into the bottom of the pan, and liberally sprinkle the flesh of the squash with the remaining sugar and spice.  

Loosely cover pan with foil and pop into the oven for about an hour, or until you're able to pierce the flesh easily with a fork.  

Now would be about the time would be admiring a picture of the cooked and ready to eat squash, except my camera decided to eat that picture.  Guess it got a little hungry taking all those photos.  

The stuffing turned out delicious, and I'll be using it again to top home made mashed sweet potatoes in individual ramekins and as a stuffing for butternut squash.  All of which are wonderful sides for Thanksgiving, or with praline chicken or cranberry pork loin (recipes to follow in future posts). 

Enjoy!  Till next time y'all! 

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