CRAISIN AND HAM BUTTERNUT SQUASH
After I finished testing this recipe, I made it again and again over the next three days. It was absolutely addictive. The glaze from the butter and brown sugar creates a subtle sweetness, while the craisins and ham add a beautiful contrast of tart and savory.
There are simply not enough meals in a day.
|WHAT YOU NEED||WHAT TO DO||WHY|
|Position an oven rack just below center; preheat convection ovens to 400°F (verify with an oven thermometer).||Ovens often run hot or cold, or preheat slowly.|
|2 tablespoons unsalted butter or Ghee||Evenly coat the bottom of a half sheet pan.||Ghee has a higher smoke point than butter.|
|1 (2 1/2 pound) butternut squash, cubed to 1-inch (about 1 1/2 pounds prepared)||Spread evenly in a single layer on the sheet pan.
Tip: Cut off both ends. Cut squash in half just above the bulbous end, rocking the knife to make the cut easily. Peel each piece with a potato peeler. Place cut sides down; cut each piece in half from top to bottom. Cleanly scoop out fiber, ragged flesh and seeds with a spoon. Cut flesh into 1-inch slices. Cut into 1-inch cubes, trimming away irregularities.
|If squash is crowded, it steams versus roasting.
It is roasting that intensifies the flavor.
|6 cloves (1 1/2 ounces) garlic, quartered
1/2 cup craisins
4 ounces ham, diced
|Sprinkle garlic, craisins, and ham over squash. Keep garlic away from the pan edges to avoid burning.
Tip: After separating garlic cloves from the head; cut off root ends. Place the broad side of a chef’s knife over top; strike with your fist or palm. Release peel and discard. Quarter.
|Large pieces of garlic are less likely to burn during roasting, but are still susceptible at the edges.|
|3 tablespoons brown sugar, firmly packed
1/2 teaspoon roughly ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
1/2 teaspoon rubbed sage
|Sprinkle evenly over everything on the sheet pan. It seems like a lot of salt, but without it, the flavor is a little flat. Bake until squash is glistening and fork tender (18-20 minutes). For ovens lacking a steam release vent, briefly crack the door 2-3 times in the final half of roasting to release the steam.
Toss before serving to redistribute moisture. Serve hot.
|Brown sugar adheres to squash better than maple syrup, honey, or agave nectar… but any of them can be used as a substitute.|
Testing notes: Acorn squash has inferior color and texture, pumpkins have inferior taste and texture; sweet potatoes are not quite as sweet or nutty.