Thanksgiving dinner at our house was always the same: turkey with Pepperidge Farm Stuffing from a bag, mashed potatoes, gravy, something green (frozen peas/beans/broccoli), and cranberry sauce out of a can. After a while we could all make it in our sleep, knowing exactly when each step of the process had to begin. Once I made a daring departure and tried out a stuffing with (gasp) sausage, which was met with stony silence from the rest of the family. Back to the bread stuffing I went. Don’t mess with tradition.
But the world is full of culinary wonders! I’m trying out a new recipe that combines butternut squash and apples. This year for the first time I can use apples from my own trees, which produced a very nice crop (I can’t claim it’s due to my extraordinary abilities, but I’ve been enjoying the results right along).
A note about butternut squash: you can buy it peeled and cubed at most markets. While I am a firm believer in doing things from scratch (and my cute little squashes here came from the last local farmers market), the @#$%& things are hard to peel and cut, and I’d hate to have you whack off a finger, especially right before Thanksgiving. Take the easy way out and buy it, with my blessing.
The interesting thing about squash/apple recipes is that they can’t decide whether they want to be sweet or savory. My personal preference is savory, because sweet vegetables like beets and sweet potatoes have always made me gag, and there’s cranberry sauce to add both color and sweetness to the meal. (And don’t forget dessert!)
Baked Butternut Squash and Apples
3 Tblsp butter, melted
1½ lbs butternut squash, peeled, seeded and cut into ½-inch cubes (another note: don’t feel bad if your cubes aren’t perfect—just don’t make them too big)
2-3 large apples (you don’t need to peel them, but pick a variety that holds up well to cooking—I used Cortlands), cored and cut into ½-inch cubes (about 4 cups)
|The pieces should all be about the same size|
1 small sweet onion (Vidalia), coarsely chopped
¼ cup flour
½ cup chicken stock (or you may use apple juice or apple cider)
Salt and pepper to taste
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease a casserole or glass baking pan.
In a large bowl, place the cubed squash, apples and onions. Toss with the flour, then the melted butter, to cover evenly. Add salt and pepper.
|Ready for the oven|
Place the squash-apple mixture in the casserole or baking dish and pour the liquid over it. Cover it if you like—the top isn’t going to brown anyway, and it will cook more evenly top to bottom. Bake until the squash is tender (about 45 minutes). This can be made ahead (always a good thing for Thanksgiving!)
|Ready to serve!|
You know the people gathered around your table. Make what you think they’d like, and enjoy each other’s company!