Thursday, 26 October 2017
Hasselback Butternut Squash with an Apple Butter-Sage Glaze
I have another fantastic squash recipe to share with you. This is with another one of my favourite varieties, butternut squash. In this recipe, a technique called 'hasselback' is used. It is a Swedish technique often used with potatoes, where they are cut only partially into thin slices so that the bottom is intact and the top fans out almost like the pages in a book. Traditionally butter and breadcrumbs are sprinkled on top, some of it falling in the creases between the slices. You can also add all kinds of things between the slices like cheese, herbs, meat… the possibilities are actually quite endless. On social media I've been seeing lots of different versions of hasselback items. You can even do this technique with a chicken breast and fill the spaces with whatever you want. It's a cool and interesting way to enjoy something. I've seen peeled hasselback butternut squash a few times on social media recently and I thought it looked amazing. I just had to try it for myself and share it here.
Since it's fall and squash season, I wanted to do a seasonal version of my own. I've always found that butternut squash and sage play very well together. The herbs I planted in the spring are beginning to end their life cycles, however sage is one of the ones that is still going strong. I keep my herb garden outside, but if I can manage to bring it in at night when the frost finally comes I will likely have sage into December (as well as thyme and rosemary). So I had to add sage to this. Then it got me thinking, you know what else goes very well with sage? Pork! What kind of condiment reminds me of fall? Apple butter! Then it got me thinking about an apple butter-sage glaze that would work amazing on roast pork. I thought it would be worth a shot with this, and WOW, was I right. I thought of taking individual sage leaves and stuffing a few of them into the slices of the butternut squash. That way the sage flavour perfumes the squash as it cooks. Then I'd use my apple butter-sage glaze to brush over it while it cooks. I'm so happy with the result and I think you will be too. I really recommend this glaze technique on ham or pork, but we’ll keep it vegetarian today. It works so well with the squash too!
Like most other varieties of squash this time of year, butternut is quite rigid and hard. I don't recommend making the hasselback cuts before you cook it. It will be too much hassle (pun, intended) and you'll never get the sage between the slices. So what we'll do is cook the butternut squash halfway, take it out, stuff it with sage, brush on our glaze, cook it quarter of the way, brush on some more glaze and let it finish in the oven. That way we'll end up with some beautiful caramelization and both you and the squash will be happy.*
This makes a stunning side-dish. Americans, since your Thanksgiving is around the corner, this might be a great idea to accompany your turkey feast. If you don't eat meat, why not make this the main attraction? This recipe calls for a bit of butter in the glaze so it isn't vegan. But you could easily make it vegan by substituting margarine or coconut oil. It may not quite have the same flavour of richness but it will still give the glaze a beautiful shine.
1 butternut squash
10-15 fresh sage leaves
2 tbsp olive oil
Salt and Pepper to taste
For the Glaze:
1/3 cup apple butter
2 tbsp brown sugar
2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
1 tbsp Dijon mustard
2 leaves of fresh sage, finely chopped
1 tbsp butter
Preheat oven to 400 Fahrenheit/205 Celsius.
Start by removing the skin of the butternut squash with a speed peeler. Make sure you get down to the bright orange colour of the squash (about 3 layers of peeling) as the flesh just under the skin tends to be yellowish and not as appealing to the eye. Slice the butternut squash lengthwise into two equal halves. Lightly oil a sharp kitchen knife and rock the blade back and forth for minimum effort and maximum safety. Use a spoon to scoop out all of the seeds and membrane from the cavities in the base of the squash. You can discard them or roast and enjoy them just like pumpkin seeds. Lightly oil the butternut squash halves and season generously with salt and pepper. Place the halves, cut side down, on a lightly oiled baking tray and place them in the middle of your preheated oven for 30 minutes.
While the squash is in the oven, combine the apple butter, brown sugar, apple cider vinegar and Dijon mustard to a small saucepan over medium heat. Whisk occasionally while it comes up to a gentle boil. By this point the sugar will have dissolved and everything should be fragrant and incorporated. Remove from the heat and whisk in 2 finely chopped, fresh sage leaves. Then add 1 tbsp of butter and stir until melted. Set aside.
Remove the butternut squash from the oven and let it cool for a few minutes. Then carefully transfer each piece to a cutting board. Make perpendicular slices along the length of the butternut squash, about 2-3 mm apart. Do not cut all the way down. You want to keep the squash connected along the bottom. You can use chopsticks or a pair of wooden spoons to line the sides of the squash and guide you. Then carefully insert sage leaves into some of the slices, 2-3 inches apart. Carefully transfer the squash back to the baking tray (they will be more fragile with the incisions). Using a brush, lightly coat the exterior of the squashes (except for the cut-side which should still be facing down on the baking tray). Return to the oven to cook for an additional 15 minutes.
Remove the squash from the oven again and give it another light brushing of the apple butter glaze. Return to the oven to cook for another 15 minutes or until the squash is fork tender. Serve warm.
That's all there is to it! A rather easy and inexpensive process for a visually stunning dish. Squash gets such a beautiful, nutty, sweet flavour when it roasts. Combined with the sweet, tangy glaze and the earthy (almost smoky) sage flavour… It's just too good! If you want to be extra fancy you could sprinkle some finely chopped, toasted pecans over the squash before serving. That would be a nice touch that I kind of wish I had thought of before making this. Fork tender squash has almost a melt-in-your-mouth consistency that's not too mushy (although it will if you overcook it). The flavours work so well together. Again, I really recommend this exact same glaze for a pork roast or smoked ham if you get the chance. If you try this you'll know just what I mean. You could double up the glaze recipe and cook the pork and the butternut squash in the same meal to help tie the flavours together. Then balance it out with something crunchy and fresh. These are just ideas. Be as creative as you like.
Apple butter is fairly easy to find nowadays, but if you're a purist you can always make your own with this Food By Bram Recipe. Either way, I hope you give this delicious recipe a try. You and yours will love it!