Tuesday, October 6, 2009

How To Cook a Butternut Squash

This may seem ridiculous to talk about, but the fact is, there was a time when I did not have a clue how to cook a squash other than in the oven. Yes, I grew up on a farm. But it was a fruit farm. I knew to cut a plum around it's middle. I knew about clings and freestone. I knew that Redhaven peaches appearing in stores well into September were not Redhaven peaches. I knew how to bake an apple.

When my mother finally had some down time just before Thanksgiving and baked a pumpkin pie, the filling always came forth from a can. When she cooked a squash, she cut it in half, scooped out the seeds and filled the hollow with some butter and brown sugar and put them into the oven to bake. It was nearly effortless and suited her ways perfectly. At Christmas, things got fancier and she would scoop out the baked filling and serve it mashed.
It was GG's Mom who put me onto using butternut squash for making pies. I am embarrassed to say that I actually peeled the squash and then put them in the oven, covered to bake. I would like to blame sleep deprivation for that. At some point after steaming vegetables to puree for baby Speedy, it dawned on me how easy and fast and nutritious it would also be to steam squash too, without peeling. From then on, I cut the squash right above the bulbous lower end and then cut the remaining upper part into equal sized pieces.
When my mother watched me prepare squash this way, she admitted it never occurred to her to steam a squash either - or anything else for that matter. She said it was faster her way. She liked to put everything in the oven and then go knit. "Besides, it warms up the house."
I think it's faster this way but I don't knit - much. Scoop out the seeds saving them if you wish to grow a few plants next season. Cut the scooped out part in half.
I use a big tall stock pot or soup pot to steam. Whatever you use, the lid must fit well. Place the little steamer in the pot bottom, put some water in making sure it comes only to the bottom of the steamer. Evenly space the squash around the pot, cover with a lid and turn the heat on to medium high. Adjust the temperature downward a bit once the water is boiling.
About 15 minutes later check the squash with a toothpick or fork for doneness. I use a metal shish kabob skewer. Once the skin easily pierces, remove the pieces from the pot to cool and when cool enough to handle, scrape the squash from the cooked skin. There is enough in one good sized butternut squash to make two pies. And that's how I cook squash.


Adeena said...

I have never thought of doing that!

Thanks for the tip! :)

Grace said...

My mother taught me to prepare butternut squash in the oven with butter and brown sugar much in that same way yours did...

And then a few years later she taught me to dice it, and roast it in the oven with butter and rosemary.

But it's great to see a variation that doesn't require so much extra *fat*. This steaming technique seems so much healthier, and conserving of the natural flavor.

I'm excited to try it out!

Linda said...

In Australia it is very common to boil butternut squash or butternut pumpkin. We peel them (maybe it is just my family I don't know), and cut the seeds out by cutting them in such a way that the seeds are on the side I suppose and you can cut them out.

You can serve up the pieces without mashing with the skin on if you wish. You can also test vegetables with a fork. It was used as a side dish with potatoes and I can't remember if butter is added to it.

The only time I make it now, or my husband does is for honey mustard chicken.

Leila said...

I put my squash in the oven whole and peel and de-seed afterwards.

I do like the caramelization of the sugars that happens when you bake it.

But steaming is surely faster and lighter! Maybe a good warm-weather way to do it? In my kitchen, maybe like your mom's, starting about now any excuse to turn on the oven rules! Even without knitting!

Glory von Hathor said...

I'm a squash-steamer too. It's so quick.

I once tried to make squash crumble - 'pumpkin pie works', I thought. Not a good experiment.

Decadent Housewife said...

I apologize to the squash peelers. I sounded impertinent. When I peeled squash, it soon glistened with it's juices making it very hard to manage. And it would only peel off in little chips not long smooth strips like a cucumber. I found it time consuming and ended up cutting my hands. What was I doing wrong?

Sue said...

We don't have butternut here in Japan, but looking at your photos I was surprised by how much the inside looks like Japanese squash (called kabocha). If my memory is correct, the flavors are also similar, but the kabocha has a more creamy texture. I also steam my kabocha if I don't want the skin on (like for soup) - I value my fingers!

I also boil it Japanese style, skin on, with a bit of stock, soy sauce, and sugar. Very yummy!

GooseBreeder said...

Steamed in a pressure cooker is great if you're going to make soup,so easy.
Had never thought of your way with brown sugar and butter! Will try it!

Jeanne said...

Love and hugs

Caution Flag said...

I'd like to pretend that I know exactly what you're talking about. Now about those pies? What do you do with the squash after it's cooked?

Decadent Housewife said...

CF, You can find how to make the pies under labels "pies."

Gloria said...

Butternut Squash, one of my absolute favourites. This is one to put on my rota. Thanks!