Braised Mélange of Winter Squash

Braised Squash
Braised Squash

We usually roast winter squash, but you can braise your winter squash instead if you are willing to trade more prep time for less cook time.  Braised or simmered squash cooks in just a few minutes, and you’re left with the benefit of all that creamy sauce, too.  This recipe from thekitchn.com shows how to do it.  The squash can be served in chunks, or puréed into a sauce, e.g. for serving over pasta.

Ingredients
3-4 lbs mixed winter squash, i.e., acorn, delicata, butternut, buttercup
⅓ cup olive oil
4 cloves garlic, minced
½ onion, diced
10 to 12 sage leaves, minced
thyme leaves from about 4-5 sprigs
¼ tsp red pepper flakes
1½ – 2 cups chicken or vegetable stock
1½ cup cream
½ block of cream cheese, cut into chunks
Salt and fresh ground pepper

Procedure

  1. Peel and cut the squash into 1-inch chunks and set aside. (Note: delicata and butternut squash can be peeled when raw; acorn and buttercup squash can be microwaved for about 3 minutes before cutting into manageable chunks (i.e., halved), then microwaved for another 3-4 minutes, allowed to cool and then peeled. Yes, this part is time-consuming.
  2. In a large, deep pot, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic and cook, stirring frequently, until golden and fragrant, about 5 minutes. Add sage, thyme and red pepper flakes and cook for another minute.
  3. Add squash and stir frequently as it gets hot, mixing well with the herbs and onions, for about 5 minutes.
  4. Add stock (it should cover squash about halfway), stir, cover and bring to a simmer. Cook for 15 to 30 minutes, or until squash is tender enough to be pierced with a fork. The total cooking time will depend on how soft you want your squash to be and how large the actual chunks are. (I cooked mine for close to an hour and it was fine, just make sure the squash doesn’t burn; you may need to add more stock).
  5. Off heat, add cream cheese, stirring to melt and incorporate; add a bit of cream and salt and pepper to taste. As you stir, you may want to stop here and use as a side dish. If you want to make it creamier for a pasta-like sauce, use an immersion blender and purée. Adjust consistency with more cream or stock.

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