Monday, September 29, 2008

A true harvest dinner, featuring pan-roasted butternut squash

This is an amazing time of year.

Last night for dinner I roasted a chicken, and served it with mashed potatoes (my family would RIOT if it wasn't -- I toyed with making roasted potatoes with onions and carrots but couldn't face the mutiny that would result) and pan-roasted butternut squash. The chicken was not exactly local -- it's from a farm near my sister and her husband, who live outside of Syracuse, NY -- but even if it was from 300+ miles away, at least it was sustainably raised by people they know are responsible farmers. The potatoes were from Drumlin, the squash from Honeypot Hill.

But since it's September, and not the middle of winter, I could also serve this meal with yet another fabulous summer-style salad, with lettuce, heirloom tomatoes, peppers and cucumbers from Drumlin. It was a fun, season-spanning meal.

Pan-roasted butternut squash

1 large squash, peeled and cut up into rough chunks
2-3 T canola oil
a few pinches of salt
1 T butter
2 T maple syrup

Heat oil in a heavy pan (I used enameled cast iron) till quite hot. Add squash then turn the heat down to medium or medium-hot. Add a few pinches of salt. Now leave it alone for awhile (maybe checking to be sure it's not burning in case your stove or your pot are wildly different from mine) -- maybe 20 minutes. As with caramelizing onions, the idea is to let it get brown so the flavor develops.

(I neglected this a lot because I was doing lots of work work (as opposed to, you know, kitchen work, which rarely feels like work), so I just came back and checked on this every so often until it had browned parts all over. At some point I turned down the heat some. That part of the process probably took an hour or more.)

When it's as brown as you have time for, add a little water and a lid and let it steam till it's really tender. Mash, add butter and maple syrup, and then serve or keep warm till it's time.

This is the first time I've added sweetener to squash in years, but it seemed just right.


S. said...

Re: sweetener and squash--we had mango chutney left over from a recent Indian takeout dinner, and it was perfect with acorn squash tonight!

Tall Kate said...

That sounds fantastic! My son LOVES mango -- that might be a good way to encourage more squash consumption ;-)