Thursday, October 15, 2009

How Sweet It Is

Harvest season is winding down. The last of the produce has been picked and readied for storage, including winter squash. Winter squash is the catch all name I have given to anything squash that can be “wintered” over. This year winter squash was part of the garden plan as they make great decoy plants for the cucumber beetles, which have plagued us for several years now. DH, my partner, and gardener extraordinaire, was surprised by how well the plants produced. We’ll be enjoying Acorn, Butternut, Buttercup, and Hubbard squash for some months to come.

As we live in Vermont with ready access to maple syrup and apple cider and because I happen to like how these flavors interact with certain foods, they are recurring themes in my culinary arsenal. You may not use fake maple syrup in this recipe. For the best maple flavor use Grade B.
The winter squash varieties to use for this recipe are: Acorn, Butternut, or Buttercup. The amount of syrup required will depend on the variety and size of the squash, and how many you will be baking. The presentation for this dish is simple, but elegant. Each person is served half a squash, and each is its own serving dish. The squash is eaten by using a dinner fork to scrape the squash away from the skin into the middle, where it is mixed with the maple syrup mixture that fills the cavity. How sweet it is!

Maple Soaked Winter Squash
Acorn squash
Butter (unsalted)
Maple syrup, Grade B
Apple Cider
Kosher salt

Preheat oven to 350. Select a 9x13 inch heat-proof baking dish and set aside. Wash and dry the acorn squash and set on a cutting board. Knock off the stem. With a large,
sharp knife cut the squash in half from top to bottom. Scrape out the pulp and seeds and discard or use in soup stock. Set the halves on their bottoms. If they rock, turn them over and slice off a small piece to level them out. Turn the halves over again and check to be sure they are steady before proceeding to the next step.

Fill the selected pan with about 1 inch of water and stir in 1 tsp. kosher salt. Place the squash cut side down in the pan. Put the pan in the oven and bake just until the squash is tender, about 30 to 45 minutes depending on the size of your squash. Remove the pan from the oven.

Turn the squash cut side up. Sprinkle each cavity with a pinch of kosher salt, and put a tablespoon of butter in each half. Fill the cavities with equal amounts of maple syrup and apple cider to about ¼ inch from the top. Give a good grind of black pepper, and a scrape or two of nutmeg. If you don’t use fresh nutmeg, a pinch will do nicely. Put the squash back into the oven and bake until they are thoroughly cooked, about 20 to 30 minutes.

Remove the squash from the oven. Using two long-handled spoons with large bowls to transfer the squash to a platter being careful not to spill any of the liquid in the cavity. (Any water remaining in the pan can be used in soup stock.) Serve immediately and wait for the compliments.


  1. I've been eating this at least once a week since Bella introduced me to the recipe!

  2. Happy to hear you like it. This dish is so absolutely simple and so fantastically delicious--even if I do say so myself!