Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Stuffed Acorn Squash

 Photo by Nathan Pearce

I'm going to let you in on a secret: I don't love squash. Especially the zucchini and yellow summer squashes. Ick. Besides the taste, they do something weird on my teeth. Anyway, back to the point. If I'm going to eat squash, it's usually butternut or acorn. The texture is much creamier and the flavor usually more robust.

But I know it's good for me, so I was looking for ways to include it in my diet while trying to lessen my dependence on potatoes. They also grow abundantly here in NC, and I like to eat as seasonally as possible. I had seen the concept of stuffed squashes, so I figured it certainly wouldn't hurt to try. I was surprised at how much I enjoyed them!

In this version, I used a blend of pork and beef, but one of my favorite ways to prepare the squash is to use ground chorizo. The boldness of the chorizo really helps to boost the flavor of the squash, while the creaminess of the squash balances the spice. It's magical.

1 or 2 acorn squash, tops cut off, seeds scooped out
1 lb grass fed ground beef
1 lb pastured ground pork
~half pound cremini mushrooms (I use the standard package size in the store), stemmed and diced
~2 cups chopped kale
2 cloves minced garlic
salt and pepper to taste

Make it:
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. While the oven is preheating, trim up your squash. Remove the seeds, and create an opening in the top that you will be able to put the meat into after roasting. Sometimes I cut the very tip of the bottom off the squash to help it sit securely. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper, and roast the squash for about an hour.

While the squash is roasting, prepare your filling. Brown the pork and beef together, adding garlic after some of the fat has rendered out. As the meat mixture begins to cook and release it's juices, add the diced mushrooms. Let those cook for about 5 minutes or so, then add kale. Mix everything together to help reduce the kale down. Once the kale is reduced down, let the mixture simmer for 10 or 15 minutes. If it dries out a little, turn the heat down to low and add a little liquid. You really don't want the filling to be too wet, though, when it is time to stuff the squash.

After the squash has roasted, use a spoon and stuff it as much as you can. There will probably be some meat mixture left over, which was fine with us because we like meat. A lot. So we can just add more. After it's stuffed (I mean stuffed!) you can top with cheese if you'd like. The pic above is a quick almond meal/goat cheese topping I made. I added a few crumbles of goat cheese to about 1/2 cup of almond meal and pressed it on top.

Bake for about 20 more minutes, to heat everything back through. If you put cheese on top, you might need to place it under the broiler for a few minutes if the cheese doesn't get brown and bubbly.

We cut it up in wedges and then dig in! Hope you enjoy!
Photo By Nathan Pearce

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