Monday, November 24, 2014

Roasted Butternut Squash Puree (Holiday Sides)



Squash, in one form or another, seems to be on the majority of Thanksgiving tables each year and ours is no exception. There are several types of squash to choose from and any that I've ever tried are equally delicious, but my family's preference has always been for Butternut Squash and as far back as I can remember, it has always been pureed. My mother hosted Thanksgiving during my entire childhood and I took over for her when I got married and had a home of my own. So, I guess you could say that this is a butternut squash recipe that has evolved and been perfected over 30+ years.

My family loves it, so I hope you do too...

Roasted Butternut Squash Puree
(Serves 15+ people)
  • 2 Large Butternut Squash
  • 12 Tbls Butter, softened and divided (1 & 1/2 Sticks)
  • 2-3 Tbls Honey
  • 1 Cup Light Brown Sugar
  • 2 Tsp Onion Powder
  • Kosher Salt & Fresh Ground Black Pepper


1. Pre-heat your oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.

2. Cut each squash in half lengthwise and carefully scoop out all of the seeds and stringy pulp. I use a standard flatware teaspoon or a melon baller. Then, using the tip of a sharp paring knife, make little 1/4" slits all over the flesh of the squash.


3. Add 4 tablespoons of the softened butter to a small bowl and stir it well until it's a smooth consistency. (I hadn't taken my butter out of the fridge quite soon enough, so I had to put it in the microwave.)


4. Add the honey to the butter and stir it in well.


5. Season the butter and honey mixture with a 1/2 tsp of salt and 1/4 tsp of fresh ground black pepper.



*Tip: This is the consistency that you want. As you can see, it's smooth and creamy and it's spreadable, but not melted. Similar to the consistency of mayonnaise. If, for some reason, your butter does happen to melt, it will still be OK. It just might not coat the squash quite as well.


6. Place the squash halves on a foil lined baking sheet, cut/flesh side up.


7. Using a pastry brush (I highly recommend the silicone brushes) spread the butter and honey mixture all over, to fully coat the squash halves.



8. Place the baking sheet in your pre-heated oven and bake for 1 to 1 & 1/2.



9. At about the 1 hour mark, check the doneness by piercing the squash with a paring knife. If the flesh is still hard at all, place them back in the oven for 20 to 30 minutes more, checking again at about 15 minutes. You want the knife to glide easily through to the bottom without any resistance. Squash can be fibrous and stringy if it isn't cooked thoroughly.


10. Once the squash is done, remove it from the oven and allow it to cool a bit before attempting to scoop the flesh out for pureeing. At this point, I usually score it (in a diamond pattern) with a sharp knife. This will allow it to 1) cool a little faster and 2) scoop out of the skin more easily.


11. While the squash is cooling, put the remaining 8 tbls of butter and the cup of brown sugar into a microwave safe bowl or Pyrex measuring cup and heat in the microwave until the sugar and butter are melted.


*Tip: I'm not going to specify a time, because microwaves can vary quite a bit in wattage and it could easily take more or less time for you, than it does for me. I would suggest using 10 to 15 second intervals and/or using 50% (or lower) power. You can take it out as long as the butter is completely melted because the brown sugar will continue to dissolve as you stir it with the hot butter.



12. While the squash is just cool enough to touch, scoop the flesh out into a mixing bowl.


13. Pour in the melted butter and brown sugar and add the onion powder, about a teaspoon of salt and 1/4 teaspoon of pepper.


14. Now, this is where you have a few options... You can use a potato masher, a heavy fork, a food processor or blender, or my particular culinary weapon of choice, a stick - also called an immersion - blender, to puree the squash. It all really comes down to a matter of taste. I (and the folks that I am feeding) tend to like our squash to be on the smoother side and a stick blender or a food processor are usually the best choice for that outcome.

If there are a few teeny, tiny lumps, that's acceptable... as long as they're soft and not stringy. As with any vegetable that you are scooping from it's outer peel, it's possible that you might find a piece or two that slipped in there, whether you use a masher or a stick blender. If any small pieces of the outer peel are in your finished dish, they aren't hard to find or see. I just give the squash a quick, but careful stir and look for anything like that. If I find them, I just fish them out with a spoon and discard them. As gladiator extraordinaire Miss Olivia Pope would say... "It's  handled". Ha!


Enjoy and have a Happy Thanksgiving!

Mary

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