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Butternut squash is one of the most common squash varieties that grows on a vine. Butternut squash is shaped like a bottle, with a long neck and a short bulbous end. It is light brown and firm on the outside and a bright orange inside. Butternut has a mildly sweet flavor that takes on seasonings and spices for both sweet and savory dishes. Roasting or boiling are two of the most common methods of cooking for the squash since it needs to be cooked trough in order to be tender enough to eat.
Butternut squash is on the milder side of sweet so it’s truly isn’t noticeable so it needs a little help. Brown sugar is granulated sugar + mollases combined to make a denser and sweeter sugar. Once cooked the brown sugar and butter bubble to make a glaze that coats the butternut slowly as it cooks. The butternut squash alone doesn’t have enough sugar in it to candy.
A little acid always brightens and amplifies the sugar and additional flavors like cinnamon sticks and vanilla. Orange is a great addition to butternut and it’s simple to add, just slice the orange in half, remove any seeds, squeeze over the butternut and drop the halves in the pan. leaving the outside of the orange is perfect for adding flavor, the carcass never cooks down too much that you can find them again and the oil from the outside of the orange seeps into the syrup.
Butter added into this dish adds not only a velvety texture but it keeps the brown sugar from becoming hardened and candied. For a harder glaze on the butternut squash and less of a syrup add the butter at the end.
Vanilla and cinnamon are great aromatic addition to anything with brown sugar, butter and nuts. The duo brighten, sharpen and enhance the sweetness of the caramelized brown sugar, the earthiness of the nuts and butternut squash. Add as much or as little are you like.
prepping the butternut squash is similar to a potato, all you need is a potato peeler, steady hand and a sharp knife. peel the brown flesh off of the squash, slice the butternut in half remove the seeds and place the butternut squash cut side down. to make the butternut squash cuts easier and fool proof place two chopsticks(one on each side) on the sides of the butternut squash lengthwise, from there slice thin slices in to the butternut without it going all the way into the bottom. keep going till slice through to the end.
for the best results i like to place my butternut into a shallow baking pan similar to a small roaster or brownie dish, followed by a peace of parchment (the parchment will keep the sugar from sticking). the shallow roaster makes it easier to baste the butternut squash to make sure the glaze get in between each cut. a pan too big won’t allow you to spoon the syrup once it’s starts to cook and boil.
roasting is essential in not only cooking the butternut squash but also bringing the butter, sugar and citrus to the right temperature to start to form a glaze. once the sugar start to boil it thickens and coats the butternut as it touches it, basting the squash once the syrup is at that thickened point lets you build nice and even coated layer, the syrup has to go somewhere don’t waste it in the pan, save the walnuts for 1 minute till the butternut is removed from the oven. adding the walnut straight to the syrup will result in soft and or burnt nuts.
glazing can take place once the brown sugar is brought to a boil in the oven and starts to thicken. layering the glaze when you baste the glaze over and over so it firms and sets a new layer for more glaze to stick onto.
hot sugar can burn your skin so you don’t need to rush to remove the butternut from the pan. sugar needs a minute to cool down so let the squash sit for ten minutes prior to plating. baste with the syrup while the glaze is still warm. serve this dish sligtly warmed or room temperature.