I have to give thanks to my sister’s boyfriend, Ben, for the inspiration for this recipe. I had intended to post it just after Halloween, with the idea that decorative pumpkins could be “reused” as… well, food. But, as is often the case, I was a bit ambitious with my posting and it took a bit longer than I had planned. So it has ended up as a Thanksgiving post, which is not entirely inappropriate given the seasonal pumpkin pie frenzy. Whether you are reclaiming decorative holiday squash or just making good use of this eminently affordable winter vegetable, I think that you will be pleased with the result (you might even like it if you are one of those people who doesn’t like pumpkin pie!) The butter is not too sweet, and I think that you’ll be pleasantly surprised by how delicious pumpkin is with a simpler, less typical spice treatment (just a dose of spicy ginger rather than the typical pie milieu). The jar in the picture is all gone, now. Whatever had escaped use in a mousse found its way onto hot buttered toast for my breakfast. I know I’ll be revisiting this recipe in the long months before spring fruits and vegetables will be back.
2 c. squash- really you can use any combination of winter (hard shelled) squash.
2/3 c. lt. brown sugar
2 T. grated fresh ginger
a pinch of salt
1/2 – 1c. water
Cut your squash into quarters, or in smaller pieces if necessary to fit it properly in a baking pan. Cover the pan with foil and poke a few holes in it to let the steam escape. Roast squash in a 375 F oven until a paring knife can easily cut through to the center of the flesh (between 30 and 50 minutes depending on the squash). This step can be done ahead of time, you can also cook more squash than you need for the butter at the same time.
I like to keep fresh ginger peeled in a plastic bag in the freezer. Frozen ginger is far easier to grate, and it keeps almost indefinitely. Grate your fresh or frozen ginger finely (I use a microplane grater). If you are using frozen ginger be sure to tamp it down when you measure it as frozen ginger had a crystalline airiness that makes it look like you’ve grated more than you actually have.
This step is optional, how you choose to approach it will affect the texture of your finished product. If you skip it all together, you will have a more rustic, textured butter with visible chunks of squash fibers. If you puree your squash in a food processor or press it through a fine mesh strainer, you will end up with a smoother texture.
Place squash puree along with the rest of the ingredients in a saucepan over medium high heat. You want to add enough water to the mix to allow everything to come together and boil, but after that you are really just trying to get rid of the water, so use as little water as possible to bring all of the ingredients together. Bring the mixture to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium/low and vigilantly stir the butter as it cooks. (Pay special attention to the corners of the saucepan, where puree likes to stick and burn) Continue cooking and stirring your butter until it is thick enough to be mounded and easily scooped up with a wooden spoon. Remove from heat.
in the refrigerator for up to a month, in the freezer if you need to keep it longer.
Spread onto buttered toast, swirl into oatmeal or pair with a nice, musty cheese on a cheese plate. Or… turn it into an easy, sumptuous mousse… (look for another post later this week).