A perfect side dish for fall and winter needs to be rich, hearty and comforting. Sweet Daddy D’s Double Shot Butternut Squash meets those criteria in a delicious way. Roasting brings out the deep flavor of the Butternut Squash then the sauce brings a sweet and savory element elevated with some
Louisiana Pecans and a double-shot of your favorite dark rum! Let’s get this show on the road with this simple, no-angst recipe that will make you famous.
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A glimpse at butternut squash
Butternut Squash is of the winter squash variety, as opposed to its country cousins, summer squash, so it has a hard skin like acorn squash, spaghetti squash and other winter varieties. Harvest time for butternut squash is summer through fall, but they store very well so most groceries have them year-round. Their flavors get richer and sweeter when ripe, so if it’s not ripe it’s meat can be tough, bland, tasteless and difficult to cook. A ripe one will be creamy and sweet when prepared properly. Unless you’re growing them, it can be quite a challenge to figure out if they are ripe and ready to go. If you’re interested in learning more about butternut squash and how to tell when they are ripe, read my Lagniappe article, Get to know Your Butternut Squash.
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Here’s What You Need
Butternut Squash is usually about 8 to 12 inches long, pear-shaped and the wide part can be as big as five inches in diameter. You’ll need about 8 cups of cubed, so get two of them.
You’ll want leftovers but you probably won’t have any! We’ll bathe them in a delicious sweet sauce made from butter, dark brown sugar, dry thyme, allspice, a couple of whole cloves and a splash of apple cider vinegar and some kosher salt. And to excite things a bit, we will throw in some Louisiana Pecans and hit it all with a double shot of dark rum. Of course, if you don’t like or don’t have any rum, bourbon is an excellent stand-in. Now you’re raring to go.
Here’s What You Do
First…you have a beer. I’m sure you’ve recognized that this recipe offers a unique opportunity to forego the beer and have a little rum on the rocks, a Cuba libra or bourbon and coke…something to stick with the theme de jour. Whatever you decide, keep it safe! Your mise en place is pretty simple. Read the recipe all the way through a couple of times, then gather up and measure out the ingredients. Cheers…you’re ready to go!
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Prepare the Butternut Squash
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees then butter the inside of an oven proof baking dish. The squash needs to be peeled and sometimes that’s no small undertaking with a Butternut. Of course, the outside is hard and right under that there is a thin pith-like layer over the meat. It’s easy to leave some of that lighter layer on when you’re peeling it but do your best to get down to the beautiful orange meat. See Hints and Tips for a couple of comments on peeling these.
Once it’s peeled, slice it in half length-wise and scoop out the seeds. You’ll want to end up with 1” cubes. I usually slice each half long ways about 4 times then across every inch or so and then finish up cutting these pieces every inch or so. It doesn’t have to be perfect-no angst, remember? The cubed squash will go in the buttered baking dish with a couple pinches of kosher salt. Mix this all together with your hands to make sure the salt is evenly distributed-this will start moving some of the moisture around. Into the oven she goes for about 40 minutes. Depending on the level of ripeness, it could take as much as 50 minutes to an hour to get really tender. Check it by probing with a toothpick. If it’s soft it’s done, if it’s not, it ain’t.
Make the Sauce
Once the squash is in the oven, we’ll turn our attention to the sauce. This sauce is so delicious and really sets this dish apart. Get the butter melted in a saucepan over medium heat. Once the butter is starting to foam, add the dark brown sugar and stir to combine it completely with the butter.
It will take a couple of minutes for the brown sugar to melt, then you’ll have a nice sugary-buttery-bubbly mixture. Throw in these dry ingredients-thyme, allspice, cloves and salt and mix them all together. Now it’s time to add the wet ingredients. Start with the vinegar then the dark rum, so it’s a perfect time for another shot for the cook. After adding in the rum, stir in the pecans. Keep stirring, this combination of ingredients over medium heat will look like its candy boiling and it’s not far from that. Keep it at a low simmer for about 5 to 10 minutes and then let it sit and wait for the squash to be ready.
Add the Sauce and finish it up
If the squash was ripe, after 40 minutes it should be well on its way to being tender. Poke it with a toothpick. If it’s still hard as a rock, let it continue in the oven and check again every 10 minutes until it’s starting to surrender. When the squash is tender, pour the sauce over the squash and mix to coat all the squash with that wonderful smelling sauce.
Stick it back in the oven for about 10 minutes. Take it out and mix it up again really well, cover with aluminum foil and its ready to go when you are.
That’s it, simple as that. All there is to it.
Hints and Tips
- This butternut squash will go very well with many things-try it with roasted chicken or turkey, or a nice pork loin or pork or beef tenderloin. Versatile, nutritious, warming, and rich with a little kick.
- The butternut squash is ready when it is tender, regardless of how much time it has been in the oven. Use a toothpick to probe the squash after about 40 minutes, just put it back in the oven if it’s still tough.
- Peeling butternut squash is not the easiest thing in the world. Use a vegetable peeler like this one that has a swivel blade. Slice the ends off first, then start on the thin neck, then move to the wider bottom. I don’t recommend using a knife as the awkward shape of the squash could make you easily slip. Take your time, you’ll get it done!
- This recipe is vegetarian as it is. To make it vegan, substitute the butter for a vegan buttery spread or any non-dairy butter substitute that meets your needs. Remember to check the label on the other items, especially the brown sugar, to make sure they are processed to meet the vegan criteria.
- This sauce is wonderful and would go great with sweet potatoes or carrots if you wanted something different. Just parboil the sweet potatoes or carrots, then mix it all together and slide it in the oven.
- Besides tasting great, Butternut Squash is pretty nutritious as well. It’s a source for potassium and other important nutrients and a great source of fiber. It benefits your hair and skin, digestion and blood pressure. Here’s a short article on the nutritional benefits of Butternut Squash.
- You can also learn a little more about Butternut Squash by reading my Lagniappe article Get to Know your Butternut Squash.
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