Here’s a quick, easy recipe that’s a perfect addition to any festive holiday meal spread. Feel free to substitute pretty much any winter squash you can get your hands on – butternut, acorn, buttercup, hubbard, sweet dumpling, pumpkin. They’re all complemented wonderfully by the nutty flavor of brown butter. The only variety I would avoid is spaghetti; the texture just won’t be what you’re looking for here.
1 medium-sized red kuri squash
1 tsp vegetable oil
4 sprigs fresh thyme
2 cloves garlic, peeled
8 oz unsalted butter
Juice of 1 lemon
salt and black pepper, to taste
Cut the squash in half through the stem end. Use a sturdy spoon to scoop out the seeds and guts, just like you would do with a pumpkin. Rub the two halves with the vegetable oil. Season with salt and pepper. Place 1 clove of garlic and 2 sprigs of thyme inside each cavity. Place the squash halves open side down on a small baking sheet or skillet and slide into your wood oven to roast. Cook, turning the baking sheet occasionally, until the flesh of the squash is soft. You should be able to poke the skin of the squash and feel the flesh give way underneath. This could take anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour, depending on the temp of your oven and the thickness of your squash.
While the squash is roasting, prepare the brown butter. Place the butter in a tall-sided saucepot over medium-high heat. Allow the butter to cook. First it will boil, which will then subside and be replaced by foam. Once the mixture begins foaming, stir frequently to prevent the milk solids from adhering to the bottom of the pot. When the foam begins to dissipate, you should be able to see the browning milk solids. Once they’ve reached a nice dark brown, remove from the heat and add the lemon juice to stop the cooking process. The mixture will boil violently for a moment, so just stand back and be careful.
Once the roasted squash is cool enough to handle, use a spoon to scoop the flesh out of the skin. Discard the thyme and garlic from the cavity. Place the flesh in the bowl of a food processor. With the motor running, slowly add the brown butter to the squash. Use the butter to taste – it will depend on the size of your squash and your personal weakness for delicious, delicious brown butter. Some squashes have more moisture content than others as well, so if your puree seems a bit dry feel free to add a small amount of water to improve the consistency.
Season the puree with salt and pepper to taste, serve and be ready to have leftover mashed potatoes at your next holiday dinner, because this creamy, unctuous little devil is going to steal the show.