My dear friend Claire told me today that she tried to make the mashed butternut squash I made for a little dinner party a few weekends ago. (Awesome, someone likes what I made them enough to want to eat it again!) She knew that I blogged about the dinner, so she figured the recipe would be here. But it wasn't. Just the roasted chicken and vegetables, no mashed squash. So she tried to remember what I did, and long story short, it didn't turn out so great. AND IT'S ALL MY FAULT.
I think I've mentioned before that one of my big incentives for starting this blog was to write down some recipes that I make a lot, but never measure, time, or in any other way make replicable. My mother has the same problem, as did pretty much every other cook in my lineage. And I've been doing pretty good about the whole measuring thing, but during the preparations for the dinner in question, I got rushed at the end and threw together the mashed squash without measuring, based entirely on the "taste, add, taste, repeat" process. Plus I forgot when I put it in the oven, so I only knew it was done because it felt done.
So there was no recipe here. But I promised Claire I would remedy that immediately. I made another batch of mashed butternut squash tonight. I timed the cooking process. I wrote down all the ingredients and actually measured their quantities. I have a whole new respect for people who write cookbooks. It is way harder to figure out how you make something than to just make it. Now I have a few pounds of mashed squash to eat for lunch for the rest of the week....o, the tragedy.
Seriously, this stuff is way too tasty to be healthy. But my Google search tells me that winter squash, especially butternut, is really good for you, packed with fiber, vitamins A, B and C, beta carotene, and even some iron! (The article didn't mention the health benefits added by the butter and brown sugar, but clearly that was an oversight.) I actually try to add the minimum amount of sugar and butter, but if you find that you like it even less sweet and buttery, feel free to cut back (or hey, if you like more sugar and butter, live it up, there's vitamins in this stuff!). I suggest adding a little at a time so you can stop when you're happy.
Mashed Butternut Squash
1 butternut squash
1/4 cup butter
1/4 cup milk
1 1/2 tbs. brown sugar
1/4 or 1/2 tsp. cinnamon (depending on taste and size of squash)
-Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
-Cut the stem off the top, then cut the squash in half. Remove the seeds with a spoon. You can stop cutting here, but it cooks faster if you cut it in long quarters.
-Put 1/2 inch of water in the bottom of a baking dish. Sprinkle a little salt on the bottom (this way you won't need to salt it at all or as much later). Lay the squash in the pan with the flesh of the squash (not the skin) in contact with the bottom of the pan. (See picture above.)
-Bake for 30 minutes, then flip so the other side of flesh (again not skin) is in the water.
-Bake for an additional 30 minutes. Squash is done when it easily pulls apart with a fork.
-Remove squash from pan. Peel the skin off. (This is the hardest part. I have no technique for this other than using some paper towels to protect my finger tips and moving quickly.)
-Put the squash in a large bowl. Add butter and mix until combined. Add milk slowly until the squash is the consistency of mashed potatoes. Add brown sugar and cinnamon.
It looks like baby food, that's why this picture is last, but it tastes like pie filling crossed with mashed potatoes. (Think about it.)