Monday, February 8, 2010

かぼちゃの Casserole

Greetings fellow foodgoers. I know many of you have been eager to know what I did with my kabocha squash from the farmers market. Rest assured I indeed found a use for it. It has been merely a matter of posting the results of this use that has taken considerable time.

Having concocted many recipes from the Lee Brother's tome of Southern cooking, cleverly entitled The Lee Bros. Southern Cookbook, I decided to rely on them for some guidance with my winter squash. Their recipe for Winter Squash Casserole can be executed with any number of winter squash varieties, but I found the kabocha to work exceptionally well here in a Southern application given its natural sweet and nutty inklings.

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While any squash is typically hard to prepare, I found that using a spoon to remove the fleshy and stringy or seedy center made quick work of the kabocha and allowed the perfect amount of time to get a nice salty pot of water to come to a boil. The addition of my favorite sausage, a Whole Foods variety "pork pesto," lightly browned and sliced thick added a great smoky, herbaceous flavor that almost made this casserole a standalone meal.

Here's what you'll need:

about 3 1/2 lbs. winter squash (I used kabocha of course), peeled and cut up into bite-sized pieces
5 T unsalted butter, plus more for the pan
1 T extra-virgin olive oil
3 C chopped yellow onion (about 2 large)
1 C whole or low-fat buttermilk (if you find whole buttermilk, let me know where you find it!)
2 large eggs
2 1/2 t minced fresh thyme
1/2 C bread crumbs, of course home made is always best
3/4 t kosher salt
1/2 t freshly ground black pepper
1/4 C pumpkin seeds or pecans, toasted
2 C coarsely grated cheddar cheese (6 ounces)

1) Preheat the oven to 375°F. Butter a 9" x 13" baking dish.

2) Place 3 quarts of water in a large stockpot and bring to a boil over high heat. Add the prepared squash, return to a boil, and then cook for six minutes. Drain and set aside.

3) Melt the butter in the stockpot and add the oil. Add the onions and sauté over medium-low heat until translucent and limp, about 8 to 10 minutes, stirring to prevent browning. Add the warm squash and the buttermilk, eggs, thyme, bread crumbs, salt, pepper, 1/2 of the pumpkin seeds/pecans, 1 1/3 C cheese. Blend until well combined. (At this point you can add a pound or so of seared, golden brown sausage to the mix--just make sure to take out an equivalent amount of squash so you don't crowd the casserole dish)

4) Spread the mixture in the baking dish. Bake for 45 minutes. Remove from the oven and sprinkle the remaining cheese and pumpkin seeds/pecans over the top of the casserole and bake 15 minutes more until cheese bubbles and top is golden brown.

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I definitely grated a bit of parm on top. Sometimes its nutty brilliance is quite hard to resist.

Keep it classy, y'all!

<3 Davey

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