A few days ago, I had hands down the best winter squash I’ve ever had the pleasure to eat. I don’t have such hubris as to talk about my own cooking that way (although my preparation was pretty damn good.) Just the squash itself was amazing. Eating the steamed squash plain with nothing added was phenomenal…rich, earthy and sweet in much the same way as all winter squash, but somehow moreso. Have you ever tried to cook or eat a carving pumpkin? They taste like someone took the flavor of an acorn or butternut and cut it in half. This tasted like someone took the flavor of an acorn or butternut and doubled it.
The thing is, I don’t know if I’ve found my new favorite squash or if this one squash was just an exemplary specimen. It was a carnival squash that came from my CSA box and I’ve never had carnival squash before. I guess the only thing to do is find another carnival squash and see how it tastes, but I’m a bit hesitant. This one was great, even if it is just the one and not the whole cultivar. But it will still be rather a letdown if the next carnival squash isn’t any better than any other winter squash. Don’t get me wrong, I love winter squash…I look forward to fall every year, just so I can cook a bunch of winter squash again. But this one was just so good.
I’ve made winter squash this way before, and it’s great: sublimely simple in effort and flavor. The rich saltiness of the brown butter really complements the sweet squash and the sage and roasted garlic add just the right counterpoints. But it was really dumb luck that I made such a simple preparation for a squash that needed so little to shine. It was definitely a serendipitous meal, and one I won’t forget for a long while.
I use salted butter for the brown butter. Depending on how salty your butter is, the brown butter might taste a bit overly salty on its own, but remember that it’s also salting the squash.
Tossing the sage in the butter while it’s still screaming hot basically fries the sage in the butter, dispersing the sage flavor through the butter and crisping the sage all at once.
This pairs wonderfully with simply sauteed pork chops for a full meal. Spoon the brown butter over the pork chops as well.
1 medium to large winter squash
6-7 large leaves sage, chopped
4 cloves roasted garlic, chopped *recipe below
4 Tbsp salted butter
Poke the squash several times with a knife. Be sure the knife reaches all the way in to the center cavity. Microwave the squash whole for 10-20 minutes, depending on the size of the squash and the power of your microwave, until the squash is soft all over. Cut the squash in half. Scoop out the seeds and discard. Scoop the flesh out of the skin and mash the flesh.
Heat the butter over medium heat in a small saucepan until the butter foams up and the foam subsides. Remove the butter from the heat and immediately stir in the sage and garlic.
Serve the squash hot with the brown butter on the side.
*Roasted Garlic: Put a whole, unpeeled head of garlic in the oven at 250 F for about 2 hours.
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