A perfect side dish for fall and winter needs to be rich, hearty and comforting when you eat it. Butternut Squash meets those criteria in a delicious way.
Not only is it versatile enough to use in soups, casseroles, sauces and more, including roasted like we have here, it’s also nutritious. Butternut Squash is of the winter squash variety, as opposed to its 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 and tasteless and be very 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, here’s a little lagniappe for you. Let’s get this show on the road with this simple, no-angst recipe that will make you famous.
Here’s What You Need
Butternut Squash are usually about 8 to 12 inches long, pear shaped and the wide part can be as big as five inches in diameter. 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 and light brown sugar, spiced with salt, thyme, allspice, a couple of whole cloves and a splash of apple cider vinegar. And to excite things a bit, we will hit it with a double shot of dark rum. Of course, if you don’t like or don’t have any dark rum, any rum or bourbon are excellent as well. Now you’re raring to go.
Double shot of my baby’s love, yeah yeah, yeah
Double shot of my baby’s love, yeah yeah, yeah
A potion that I had too much of
It was a double shot of my baby’s love
The Swinging Medallions
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 or a Cuba Libre or a bourbon and coke or something to stick with the theme de jour. Whatever you decide, keep it safe!
Get your oven going at 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 light layer over the meat. It’s easy to leave some of that lighter layer on when you’re peeling but do your best to get down to the beautiful orange meat. Once it’s peeled, slice it in half and scoop out the pumpkin-like seeds. You’ll want to end up with 1” cubes. I usually slice the squash 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 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. The whole cooking process can take anywhere from 50 minutes to about an hour and 15 minutes and the level of ripeness really come into play here.
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 sauce pan over a medium heat. Once the butter is starting to foam, add the brown sugar and stir to combine it completely with the butter. It will take a couple of minutes and the brown sugar will melt and you’ll have a nice sugary buttery bubbly sauce. Throw in these dry ingredients-thyme, allspice, cloves and salt. Mix ‘em up. Now it’s time to add the wet ingredients, so start with the vinegar for a little tang. You’re ready for the guest of honor and 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 a medium heat will look like crazy boiling candy and it’s not far from that. Keep it at a low simmer for about 10 minutes and then let it sit and wait for the squash to be ready.
If the squash was ripe, after 40 minutes it should be well on its way to being tender. Poke it with a tooth pick. If it’s still hard as a rock, let it continue in the oven and check again in 10 minutes and every 10 minutes until it’s starting to surrender. That’s when you want to pour the sauce all over the squash and mix it up to coat all the squash with that wonderful smelling sauce. Stick it back in the oven and check in 10 minutes. It’s ready when your tooth pick probes very easily into the squash. When it does that, take it out and mix it up again really well, cover with aluminum foil and its ready to go when you are.
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. Recently I served this with Dill Butter Salmon and Creole Sauteed Summer Squash and Zucchini-de-fricken-licious!
Versatile, nutritious, warming, and rich with a little kick.
If you like it, rate it and leave me a comment or a question.
Yeah you right!