Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Clay Pot Winter Squash

Clearly, it was fate. After a week of uncomfortable dog day October weather, Santa Anas and all, it's a chilly blustery day and I have a kitchen filled with winter squash from Specialty Produce that I picked up last week. And so tonight's dinner will be one of my go-to, one-dish meals, Clay Pot Winter Squash.

But which squash will it be? The sugar pie?

Nah, that I'll save for a real pumpkin pie. They're so sweet that they meant for baked goods like pies, muffins, and breads.

I could use one of the two minis--orange and white.

I could, but, they're so delightful baked whole. You can simply remove the top, scoop out the seeds, add milk and grated cheese (try gruyere), then bake at 350 until tender. Scrape down the inside flesh of the pumpkin, gently stir, season, and enjoy a little cup of soup.

The variegated sweet dumpling squash is another option--and not a bad one. I love their striped ribs and they're a colorful option for slicing and roasting.

No, tonight's clay pot stew will glow with the amber color of of the Red Kuri squash. The color is so seductive, the nutty flavor is like eating a roasted chestnut. So, it'll go well with the andouille chicken sausage I'll chop into it, as well as raisins and Cuzco corn. Serve it on a bed of brown rice or quinoa,  and you're set for a warming meal on a cold rainy night.

Clay Pot Winter Squash
(Printable Recipe)
Serves 6

2 pounds winter squash, peeled, seeded, and chopped into 1-inch pieces
1/2 large onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 cups giant Cuzco corn (you can find frozen in Hispanic markets)
1 cup golden raisins or other dried fruit
2 large fresh sausages, sliced
1/2 cup white wine
1/2 cup olive oil
2 tablespoons brown sugar, plus more to sprinkle on toward end of baking
1 tablespoon fresh sage leaves
1/2 teaspoon salt
ground pepper to taste

Combine all the ingredients and mix well. Add to 3-quart stoneware pot and cover. Place the pot in the middle rack of the oven. Turn on oven to 375˚ (it's important not to preheat the oven; you want to gently warm the clay pot or else it will crack when exposed to high heat). Bake for about an hour and a half. Open the lid and use a fork to determine if the squash is cooked through. If so, sprinkle the mixture with brown sugar and let cook another 15 minutes uncovered. Remove from oven and serve.

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