That’s right! We are officially onto blogging about November! And it’s still November! This is a major accomplishment. Be proud, be very proud. We did this for you. We want you to hear about glorious Christmas cookies and Holiday feasts in a timely manner. You are welcome!
And now I am going to tell you all about acorn squash. Acorn squash was the In Season highlight for the issue we chose, November 2007, no. 47. I may have previously mentioned that I have a half bushel of acorn squash in my coat-closet-turned-pantry so this issue was an obvious selection for us. The good news is that the rest of the issue is pretty awesome as well.
I started with Garlic-Crusted Pork Loin with Mashed Acorn Squash. I couldn’t find the recipe online so if you have the magazine, you can find it on pg. 34.
No, that is not a pork loin… It’s another freakishly large pork chop.
So here’s the gist if you don’t have the magazine.
4 garlic cloves
Pork loin roast (about 1 3/4 lbs) or as you see in the picture above a couple of decent sized pork chops
2 acorn squash
1/4 cup sour cream (the recipe calls for reduced-fat, but I try to go for the real thing where dairy is concerned unless it’s milk)
1 tablespoon light brown sugar
The idea in the original recipe is to cook everything at the same time in a 450 deg. oven. Since I was using pork chops I assumed they wouldn’t take quite as long to cook because they aren’t as thick so I actually used to pans. Prep the squash by cutting them in half lengthwise and scooping out the seeds (if you are a fan of roasted pumpkin seeds you can use these the same way). Prep the meat by finely chopping the garlic. If you have a garlic press, it makes this job much easier. Once the garlic is well chopped, sprinkle it with coarse salt and smear it with the side of a chefs knife until it forms a paste. Then smear that paste along with some olive oil, salt and pepper on whatever meat you choose. If you are doing the loin put that in the center of a baking sheet and arrange the squash cut side down around it. Pop that into the oven for 35 to 40 minutes.
Since I did chops I started those on the stove on a medium heat while I put the squash in the oven. After getting some color on both sides of the chop I added that to the oven as well and used a meat thermometer to make sure it was cooked through. I timed it so the pork went in the oven when there was about 20 minutes left on the squash and the timing worked out pretty well that they both came out at the same time.
Once the squash is out you scoop it into a bowl with the sour cream and brown sugar and mash it all up. Then you are ready to go!
This was an incredibly flavorful meal. The garlic rub was incredible. I am definitely going to use that method again. The mashed acorn squash was subtle but really delicious as well. I was thrilled with how these went together and I was so satisfied by the end of the meal.
I also made the Acorn Squash Bisque.
And of course, served it with grilled cheese!
This was not only really simple, but so so so so so (imagine about 5 more so’s) good! It’s like liquid autumn. It tastes incredible. The thyme goes so well with the squash. It is also rich but not so rich that you can’t easily have seconds. I highly recommend this one to anyone with a blender or food processor!
The only squash recipe that I wasn’t thrilled with was the Chili-Roasted Acorn Squash. When I say “wasn’t thrilled”, I mean “wasn’t blown away by”. This recipe was still good, just not my style as much as the other two.
The magazine claims that once the skin is roasted it becomes “soft and tasty”. It does become soft. And yes, it was edible. I think “tasty” was a bit of a reach. I didn’t love it. There wasn’t much flavor overall, but it was faintly bitter. Also the texture of the skin was a little annoying. It wasn’t pleasant to chew through. Unfortunately, since the squash was cut so small, it was difficult/messy to eat if you didn’t want to eat the skin. It meant pealing each little piece before eating. Not worth the effort. I think if I want to achieve this flavor in the future, I would just leave the pieces as halves or quarters and scoop the flesh out of the skin as I went rather than take the time to cut into small pieces.
Now G is going to tell you about Wild Rice Stuffed Squash!
Yeah, I am! G here, and here is my beautiful friend:
You can’t tell me that doesn’t look like November
As the recipe is written, this is a vegetarian main dish. But….you know me, I had to substitute. In fact, there are a couple substitutions with this recipe. The first is the wild rice mix. I know what they meant. They meant one of those boxed mixes with some brown rice, some white, some wild. The recipe says this mixture will all cook together in 25 minutes on the stove. Well, I only found this at the store:
insert rice gone wild joke here
That’s Minnesota “wild” rice. Just the long, black grains. The bag said it would take just under an hour to cook on the stove. Shoot. I had waited until there was about 25 minutes left for the squash to roast in the oven before starting the rice. No time to wait for this stuff to cook. So I followed the microwave directions and cooked my “wild” rice in 1 cup low sodium chicken broth and 1/2 cup water. It took roughly a half hour to cook that way. That’s yet another substitution. I cooked the rice in a broth and water mixture because I wanted to add more flavor.
On to the bigger substitution. I added a 1/2 lb ground turkey, browned, to the stuffing. I browned it in the skillet immediately after the “shallot” (I substituted red onion…shoot! That’s another substitution!), garlic, and sage were done sautéing. I also added grated parmesan cheese to the top of the heap and browned it all together in a 350 degree oven for five minutes at the very end of cooking to bring the flavors together and the melt cheese. I still think the stuffing flavor could have oozed down into the squash a little more. The next time I make this, would undercook the squash a little and let it finish cooking with the stuffing inside it. I think this recipe was more like squash with the side dish heaped inside than something truly stuffed.
One more substitution: I used dried cranberries instead of dried cherries. Why? Because I’m cheap and craisins are delicious.
This winds up being a very filling and delicious recipe, but I have a hard time imagining it without the turkey. It really adds a lot. Perfectly appropriate for a main dish once you make these changes. I think otherwise it’s a side dish. Sorry vegetarians!
Oh, and if you’re at all curious whether this is appropriate for a baby, I made one of the squash halves just for J. I omitted the wild rice and the cranberries because they both seemed like potential choking hazards. He really enjoyed this one.
J’s is the top left