Saturday, February 5, 2011

Latecomer's squash

We all know that the best and easiest way to fix winter squash is to cut it in two, scoop out the seeds, and put it in the oven for an hour or so.  The sugars caramelize a little, and it needs no maple syrup, no brown sugar, no butter, no sticky pecans to make it sweet and delicious.

But what if you suddenly realize it's 6 p.m. and you forgot to put the squash in the oven and you really need to have dinner on the table way before 7?  Here's one solution.

I had a butternut squash, my favorite because of the nice long seedless neck.  I cut off the neck, sliced it in two down the axis and nuked it for five minutes (you would probably need less time; my microwave is 25 years old and doesn't put out as much power as anybody else's microwave). 

Meanwhile I melted a little bacon fat in a frying pan.  When the squash came out of the microwave, I sliced it a bit more than a quarter-inch thick and sauteed it over medium high heat, enough to put a brown crust on one side.  Total oops-to-serving time, 15 minutes.

There wasn't enough cooking time to give that fully caramelized oven flavor, but the bit of bacon grease did give a different richness.  I would do the same thing again even if time were not at a premium, except maybe I'd peel the squash after it came out of the microwave.  The rind doesn't taste bad, but it is pretty chewy.

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