Posts Tagged ‘squash’

This January has given 2019 a little bit of a rough start for me. I had a short, nasty stomach bug for the first two days of the year, which was followed up with back pain for several days. After that, I traveled to be with my dad while he had cancer surgery. Two days after I returned home from my trip, I came down with a nasty flu-like bug that knocked me out for 10 days. Whew! Good riddance, January!

Turkey with Stuffing

Although the holidays are long gone, this recipe certainly has a holiday feel to it. While Alton’s other turkey recipes have really featured the turkey itself, this one is all about the stuffing. In the episode, Alton actually goes into very little detail about prepping/cooking the turkey, so I opted to brine my turkey, using the brine recipe from the original Good Eats Thanksgiving special. The premise of this recipe is that Alton can make a well-balanced stuffing that will cook inside the turkey, and that the turkey and stuffing will reach their desired temperatures at nearly the same time. To make the stuffing, chop 1 C each of onion, celery, and green bell pepper.

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A cup each of celery, onion, and green bell pepper.

Toss the chopped vegetables with 1 T vegetable oil and 1 T Kosher salt. Spread the vegetables on a sheet pan and roast them for 25 minutes at 400.

After 25 minutes, add 3 C cubed Challah bread (I made my own) to the vegetables, give everything a toss, and continue roasting for 10 more minutes.

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My Challah bread, ready to be cubed.

Next, place two ounces of dried mushrooms (porcini, morels, or shiitakes) in a bowl and pour a quart of boiling chicken stock over them. Let the mushrooms rehydrate for about 30 minutes.

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Shiitake mushrooms, soaking in boiling chicken broth.

When the mushrooms have finished their soak, drain them (reserving their liquid), chop them, and place them in a large bowl, along with 4 ounces dried cherries, 2 ounces chopped pecans, 2 beaten eggs, 2 t dry rubbed sage, 2 t dry parsley, the roasted vegetables and bread, and 1/2 t pepper.

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Dried cherries and chopped pecans.

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Chopped mushrooms added to cherries and pecans.

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Chopped mushrooms added to cherries and pecans, along with eggs, rubbed sage, and dry parsley.

Add enough of the reserved mushroom liquid to moisten, but not saturate, the mixture; I used about a cup, though Alton was vague about this in the episode and it actually appeared as if he added all of the reserved liquid.

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Challah, vegetables, pepper, and mushroom liquid added to mixture.

Place the stuffing in a cotton produce bag, or use cheesecloth to make one – you can seal it with butcher’s twine. Place the bag of stuffing in a microwave-safe bowl and microwave it on high for six minutes. Also, preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

To put the stuffing in the turkey, prop the open end of the turkey up on the side of a bowl and use tongs to plunge the bag of stuffing into the bird. If you have a plastic cutting board, you can form it into a tube shape, insert the tube-shaped cutting board into the cavity, and push the bag through the tube.

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Microwaved stuffing placed inside turkey.

For this recipe, you will ideally want two thermometers – one inserted in the thigh and one inserted into the center of the stuffing; I only have one oven-safe thermometer, so I placed that in the thigh and checked the stuffing periodically with an instant read thermometer. Place the bird in a roasting pan and roast it for 45 minutes at 400 degrees. After 45 minutes, decrease the oven temperature to 350 and cook until both the stuffing and the thigh meat are about 170 degrees. When done cooking, remove the stuffing bag with tongs and place the stuffing in a serving bowl.

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Turkey after cooking to thigh temperature of 170.

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Alton’s stuffing.

Tent the turkey with foil and let it rest for 15-20 minutes before carving. Okay, so there were some good things about this recipe and some bad things. This stuffing has a wide variety of both flavors and textures, with flavors ranging from sweet/tart to umami, and textures that range from slightly crunchy to moist and soft. I will say that the stuffing would have been too wet, and probably overpowered with mushroom flavor, if I had added all of the mushroom liquid as Alton appeared to do in the show. My biggest problem with this recipe was that it didn’t achieve the goal of having the stuffing and turkey finish cooking at the same time. For me, the stuffing was done cooking long before the turkey was, so I ended up pulling the stuffing out early while I had to continue cooking the bird for a good 20 minutes. In my mind, that makes this recipe a failure. Also, I think the bird could have done with a little less cooking. While I would consider making the stuffing again, I would not attempt to cook it in the bird again. Instead, I would opt for either the original Good Eats roast turkey or the butterflied, dry brined turkey.

Stuffed Squash

Since the tendency with stuffing is to stuff vegetables into meat, Alton decided to formulate a recipe where a meat filling is stuffed into squash. Acorn squash are the squash of choice for this recipe, as they are perfect for individual servings. To make four servings (I only made two), cut the lids off of four acorn squash and scoop out their seeds; be very careful when doing this, as I discovered it is very easy to poke a hole in the bottom of the squash! Be sure to save the lids for later. If your squash will not sit flat, you can also cut off part of the bottoms to make them level.

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My two acorn squash, ready to be prepped.

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Lids off and scooping out seeds.

Set the prepared squash on a parchment-lined sheet pan. To make the filling, cook 1/2 pound ground pork in a large skillet over medium heat until the pork is no longer pink. Transfer the pork to a small bowl and set it aside.

Return the pan to the burner, but decrease the heat slightly. Add 1 T olive oil to the pan, along with 1/4 C chopped carrots, 1/4 C chopped celery, 1/4 C chopped onion, and a pinch of Kosher salt. Cook the vegetables until they have softened a bit.

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Celery, onion, and carrot added to hot oil, along with a pinch of Kosher salt.

Deglaze the pan by adding 1/2 C white wine and scraping up any browned bits.

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Wine added to deglaze the pan.

Follow the wine with 10 ounces of thawed/drained/chopped frozen spinach, 1 1/2 C cooked rice, 1 1/2 t dried oregano, the cooked pork, and 1/2 C toasted pine nuts.

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Spinach, rice, oregano, pork, and pine nuts added to the skillet.

Stir the filling until it is heated through and add a few grinds of black pepper. Remove the filling from the heat and place 1/2 T butter in the bottom of each prepared squash.

Spoon the stuffing into the squash, avoiding tightly packing the stuffing.

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Filling spooned into prepped squash and lids placed on top.

Place the lids on the squash and cook them for one hour at 400 degrees, or until the squash are just fork tender.

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Alton’s stuffed squash.

We ate these squash as our dinner entrée and were pretty happy with them. Ted really does not care for squash, in general, but he agreed that the sweetness of the squash paired well with the very savory pork filling. This is a an easy meal that really gives you both your protein and veggies in one, and the individual squash “serving dishes” are sort of fun. The squash also did not become mushy, as some squash are wont to do. I could see making the filling ahead of time for these, and on a busy weeknight you would only have to fill the squash and put them in the oven. Super easy!

 

It’s been a while since I last posted. While I actually prepared the recipes from this episode of Good Eats weeks ago, I am only just now having time to sit down and actually write them up. Since I last made a post, we have left town a couple times, Ted finished up chemo and had scans (clear – yay!), we hosted a clear scan party, and my mom ended up in the hospital/had surgery. Hopefully things will slow down here at some point!

Anyway, the subject of the 64th episode of Good Eats was squash, and particularly winter squash. Needless to say, this episode would have been more ideal if it had popped up during cooler months of the year. Thankfully, you can purchase winter squash at any time of the year.

Squash Soup

First up in this episode was Alton’s squash soup. Alton used two Kabocha squash to make his soup, though he stated you could use any hard winter squash; I could not find Kabocha squash at my store, so I used acorn squash.

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The hounds, checking out my acorn squash.

You first need to quarter your squash and remove the seeds. Alton quartered his squash by hitting a vegetable cleaver with a wooden mallet.

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Quartered acorn squash.

Brush the squash quarters with melted butter, sprinkle them with Kosher salt and pepper, and stick them in a 400-degree oven.

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Quartered acorn squash, brushed with melted butter and sprinkled with pepper and Kosher salt.

According to Alton, your squash should be tender and roasted within 25 minutes, but my squash took nearly an hour to become tender.

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Squash, after roasting for almost an hour.

When your squash are cool enough to handle, use an ice cream scoop to remove their flesh. You will need six cups of cooked squash, and the easiest way to measure this is using displacement. You can do this by putting the squash in a large measuring vessel with 1 1/2 C chicken stock; when the liquid line hits 7 1/2 C, you know you have 6 C of squash. Dump the squash/stock in a pot and add 1 1/2 C additional chicken stock, 4 T honey, and 1 t grated ginger.

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Squash in soup pot, along with chicken stock, honey, and grated ginger.

Heat the soup over medium-high heat until bubbles begin to form on the surface, and process the soup with an immersion blender until smooth. Finally, finish the soup by stirring in 1/2 C heavy cream, 3 big pinches of Kosher salt, 2 small pinches of white pepper, and 6 grates of nutmeg on a microplane grater.

Simmer the soup over medium heat until it is heated through. Serve in bowls with sour cream. We ate this soup with goat cheese toasts on the side.

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Finished squash soup with sour cream.

Ted is not particularly fond of squash, but he thought this soup was “pretty good.” Honestly, I found this soup to be a little too sweet, so I would consider cutting down on the honey. The sour cream does help to cut the sweetness also. This would be a perfect soup for a chilly night, so it did not seem apropos when we were eating it in the heat of summer. This is a good, easy, traditional squash soup, and it would come together in minutes if you prepped the squash ahead of time.

Butternut Dumplings with Brown Butter and Sage

Of the recipes in this episode, I was most excited to make Alton’s squash dumplings. For this recipe, you will need a one-pound butternut squash.

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A one-pound butternut squash.

Halve the squash, remove the seeds, brush the flesh with olive oil, and sprinkle them with Kosher salt and pepper.

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Halved squash, brushed with olive oil and sprinkled with Kosher salt and pepper.

Roast the squash in a 375-degree oven for 45 minutes, or until tender. When you put the squash into the oven, also add 4 medium russet potatoes to the oven, taking care to prick their flesh with a fork first.

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4 medium russets, skin pricked with a fork.

While your vegetables are roasting, you can gather your other ingredients:  Kosher salt, 1 1/2+ C flour, and an egg, lightly beaten with a pinch of nutmeg.

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One egg, to be beaten with a pinch of nutmeg.

Once the vegetables are cool enough to handle, mash the flesh of the squash together with the flesh of the potatoes, mashing only until combined.

Using a wooden spoon, stir the egg and 1/2 C flour into the squash/potato mixture. You want to add flour gradually until you have a dough that is slightly wet, but not sticky.

While Alton only needed a small amount of flour to get his dough to the proper consistency, I ended up needing over 5 C of flour to get my dough to the point where I could handle it; several online reviewers had this same problem. Once your dough is ready, bring a pot of salted water to a boil. On a floured surface, turn out your dough and divide it into eight equal balls.

One at a time, roll each ball into a 1/2-inch thick snake, and cut each snake into 1/2-inch pieces.

At this point, you can cook the dumplings or place them on a floured baking sheet and freeze for later use. To cook the dumplings, add them to the boiling water in batches, removing them from the water as they float to the surface. To cease cooking, place the boiled dumplings immediately in ice water before drying them on a tea towel.

Next, heat a skillet over high heat, adding 1 T softened butter. Once the butter is melted, add 2 chopped sage leaves and 1 C of the boiled/cooled/dried dumplings. Cook the dumplings until they are golden brown and crispy on all sides.

Serve the dumplings with lots of Parmesan cheese and pepper.

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A bowl of dumplings with Parmesan and pepper.

We really liked these dumplings, though they definitely needed a healthy sprinkle of Kosher salt in addition to the Parmesan and pepper. The dumplings are fairly dense, but delicious with their crispy exteriors and softer interiors. The dumplings are slightly sweet and pair greatly with the savory browned butter, sage, and Parmesan. I will say that the process of making the dough was much more tedious than Alton demonstrated in the show, but we ended up with enough dumplings for at least three meals. I foresee making these again, especially in the Fall.

Pumpkin Bread

Last up in this episode was Alton’s pumpkin bread recipe. Ideally, for this recipe you will want to use fresh pumpkin, but I had to settle for canned pumpkin since it was the middle of July. Either way, you will need 3 C of pumpkin; if using fresh pumpkin, grate the flesh. You will also want to toast 1 C of pumpkin seeds for 5 minutes at 400 degrees. I purchased pumpkin seeds that were already toasted. In a bowl, sift together 2 C flour, 2 t cinnamon, 1/2 t Kosher salt, 1 t baking soda, and 1/4 t baking powder.

In a separate large bowl, beat 3 eggs and gradually add 1 1/2 C sugar.

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3 eggs, beaten with 1 1/2 C sugar.

Once the sugar is incorporated, slowly whisk in 3/4 C vegetable oil. Finally, add 1 t vanilla extract.

Fold the pumpkin mixture into the egg mixture, along with the cup of toasted pumpkin seeds.

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Pumpkin and pumpkin seeds added to egg mixture.

Finally, add the dry ingredients to the wet mixture, and fold everything together. Pour the batter into a nonstick loaf pan and bake at 325 degrees for 75 minutes, or until the tip of a paring knife comes out clean.

Cool the bread in the pan for 15 minutes before turning the bread onto a rack to cool completely. If you prefer to make muffins instead of bread, divide the batter among muffin tins and bake for 30 minutes at 325 degrees.

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Alton’s pumpkin bread.

This is a very delicious pumpkin bread, but I really did not care for the texture of the pumpkin seeds. I found the pumpkin seeds to be very chewy from absorbing the moisture of the bread. I definitely plan to make this bread again, but I will be omitting the seeds. The bread itself has just the perfect amount of sweetness, is very moist, and has loads of pumpkin flavor.