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Best way to prepare Butternut Squash?

post #1 of 14
Thread Starter 
It's so tough to peel and so hard to cut :crazy: What do you suggest: boiling unpeeled, baking unpeeled, peeled then cut up and boiled or baked--or what? I just want to season it with butter and maybe some fennel seeds. Any thoughts? Thank you!
post #2 of 14

Butternut!

Make sure your knives are sharp sharp sharp!

Trying to prepare butternut with a blunt or inadequate knife, or even a peeler, is horrible. I remember tring to prepare a butternut in a rented cottage, where the only knife available was a cheap and flimsy 4" serrated vegetable knife, and after five minutes wrestling and nearly losing several fingers I was ready to throw the thing through a window.

Use the biggest, sharpest, most robust knife you possess! Slice off the very top of the squash and then cut the butternut in two at the top of the "bulge", so that you end up with a cylinder and a sphere, then just slice down the sides of the cylinder with a sharp knife.

Cut off the bottom of the sphere so that you've got a flat base, slice off the peel at an angle, top half first, then turn the sphere upside down and do the same to the bottom half. Easy-peasy - halve it, quickly scrape out the seeds with a spoon, and you're done.

I love your idea of fennel seeds. Butternut is a favourite of mine: peeled, boiled and mashed, with butter and maybe some ground nutmeg or allspice. It's wonderful peeled and baked in chunks, until it begins to caramelise, with butter and Indian spices - either a teaspoon of masala spice scattered over it, or simply a couple of crushed cardamom pods, a teaspoon of whole cumin or mustard seeds, and a cinnamon stick. I've also made a very tasty butternut curry to a recipe by Madhur Jaffrey, with chillies, peppercorns, fenugreek, brown sugar and cumin.

For summer chunks of seasoned butternut are great baked in the ashes of a barbeque, or threaded in smaller pieces onto skewers with aubergine, mushroom and red pepper and roasted as a vegetable kebab.

I've baked sweet potato with bitter orange marmalade and orange juice, and I wonder if butternut might work well with orange as well?

And butternut makes one of the most satisfying winter soups: sweet and unctuous, with an intense orange colour and velvet-smooth texture. Two nights ago I made soup from butternut - simply pureeing the butternut with vegetable stock and adding a tablespoon of cream.
post #3 of 14
The other night I roasted some and towards the end glazed it with pineapple-peach jam and horseradish, a little salt and pepper. A little fruity with some kick, just right with my pork roast.
post #4 of 14
I can't understand why anyone would peel it first, before cooking. Cook first, i prefer steaming because it's faster, but baking is good too (maybe tastes better) and then just scrape it out with a spoon - no sharp knife, nothing.
If i make them stuffed, then i want them in the skin, so no problem.
"Siduri said, 'Gilgamesh, where are you roaming? You will never find the eternal life that you seek...Savour your food, make each of your days a delight, ... let music and dancing fill your house, love the child who holds you by the hand and give your wife pleasure in your embrace.'"
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"Siduri said, 'Gilgamesh, where are you roaming? You will never find the eternal life that you seek...Savour your food, make each of your days a delight, ... let music and dancing fill your house, love the child who holds you by the hand and give your wife pleasure in your embrace.'"
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post #5 of 14
I would use a giant chef's knife or a santoku- something high quality or recently sharpened. Just cut off both ends, and cut in half. Peel downwards with the very sharp knife. Cut both unpeeled halves in quarters lenghtwise, and do a quick dice. I like roasting my butternut squash, or putting it in a soup puree with a little bit of salt and pepper, and brown sugar. If you want to roast it, use a little bit of molasses with cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, and a pinch of salt. Bake until squash looks caramelized. Butternut squash is a great ingredient to use in pretty much anything. It's great for Thanksgiving, too. :)
Meet Austin- destroyer of all picky eaters. He's watching you...
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Meet Austin- destroyer of all picky eaters. He's watching you...
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post #6 of 14
Here is the secret to peeling. Don't use a knife. Use a potato peeler. It's so much easier and safer.

Best way to cook is to roast.
post #7 of 14
Cut into uniform (best ya can) chunks about 1"X1", toss in clarified butter, S&P, lay on parchment lined sheet pans in an even layer and roast at 425 deg until tender.

Always worked for me. This way you can puree or just serve it like it is.:roll:
post #8 of 14
I highly agree with mudbug, except the potato peeler I have on hand is a piece of ****. xP If you're like me, just cut it into halves, thirds, or quarters, and cut downward like peeling a mango.
Meet Austin- destroyer of all picky eaters. He's watching you...
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Meet Austin- destroyer of all picky eaters. He's watching you...
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post #9 of 14
I agree that the vegetable peeler is the best tool if you have a quality vegetable peeler. After peeling I like to cut them down the center lengthwise, remove seeds, cut into one inch pieces and place on a baking sheet. Brown butter in saucepan and season the butter with oregano, rosemary and a splash of balsamic vinegar then pour this over the squash pieces. Bake in a hot oven (375 - 400 degrees until almost fork tender - about an hour) then sprinkle with olive oil and bits of sausage. Reduce heat and continue cooking until sausage is cooked and squash is brown and tender.
post #10 of 14
I definitely agree that roasting is the best for every butternut preparation. You get so much more flavor, and all that yummy caramelization! I would suggest adding a little bit of water to your cooking sheet if you roast them, skin side up of course, in order to facilitate a little steaming and to avoid burning, especially of you are lucky enough to be using a convection oven.
post #11 of 14
Cutting hard squash is a dangerous proposition. The darned things tend to roll, just as you put the most pressure on your knife.

I prefer to use a large Chinese veggie cleaver and a small mallet. I put the cleaver on top and tap with the mallet, keeping my hands well away from the veggie and the board. That way, if there are any rolls, I don't have anything valuable in the way.

Once it's cut in half, you can cut more freely, there being a large flat surface to steady the squash.
post #12 of 14
castironchef,

It is very simple to prevent rolling of squash. Just fold up a small towel into quarters so there's some padding and put the squash on top of the towel, this will help prevent the squash from rolling around upon the initial cut. After that, use the flat surface of the initial cut for the rest of the cuts.
post #13 of 14
I'm trying a squash gratin for Thanksgiving. I hope it works.

Kevin

Those Tofurkeys are humorous.
post #14 of 14
I used the following for roasted acorn squash for yesterday. I would think it would be good for butternut too . . . . . . .

Acorn Squash
Butter or Olive Oil
Cinnamon
Brown Sugar
Nutmeg

I've prepped it two different ways, and they both have their shortcomings. First go round I just halved the squash, smeared with butter or olive oil, then sprinkled with the dry ingredients. The problem I had with this was after roasting for 60 minutes at 350, a lot of edible flesh was left behind post scooping, and that which was scooped seemed a bit over done.

So, this go round I pealed the dang things. Talk about a PITA! I'm sure knife sharpness was the main issue, but also peeling with those dang ridges sucked too! However, there was minimal waste. I cut them into roungly 1.5 inch cubes, coated with VOO, layed out on the pan, and sprinkled liberally the brown sugar and cinnamon, and added a bit of nutmeg. Once cooked, I added a bit more of the dry ingredients while mashing. As Rachael would say, "yum-o!"

I do think this would be great with butternut as well. In fact, I may try that soon, and use the second method of prep as peeling a butternut has to be easier then peeling an acorn. Anything is easier then peeling an acorn (well, maybe not anything, but most things).
"Life ain't always beautiful; Sometimes it's just plain hard. Life can knock you down, it can break your heart. Life ain't always beautiful: You think you're on your way. And it's just a dead end road, at the end of the day. But the struggles make you stronger, and the changes make you wise. And...
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"Life ain't always beautiful; Sometimes it's just plain hard. Life can knock you down, it can break your heart. Life ain't always beautiful: You think you're on your way. And it's just a dead end road, at the end of the day. But the struggles make you stronger, and the changes make you wise. And...
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