Monday, October 28, 2013

Mashed Butternut Squash with Brown Butter & Crispy Sage

Nothing says autumn like butternut squash. I've always loved roasting and mashing it just like mashed potatoes, but this year I decided to make it with brown butter. A couple of weeks ago, I made butternut squash ravioli with sage and brown butter, which gave me the idea of  browning the butter first instead of simply melting it and adding it to the mash. As expected, it adds a great deal of flavor and a wonderful nuttiness. Browning the butter over low heat allows the butterfat and milk solids to separate. As the milk solids continue to cook, they begin to brown and develop a nutty flavor. 

Sage is a classic pairing with butternut squash. By crisping the sage in the melted butter, it infuses it with a lot of flavor. You can either crumble the crisped sage leaves over the mash and stir it in, or leave them whole as a garnish on top. I think the whole leaves make a nice presentation and add a crunchy texture to contrast the creamy mash. Either way, it's delicious. 

I love mashed butternut squash as a side dish with just about anything, but especially roasted or fried chicken. This dish is extremely versatile and makes a great alternative to ordinary mashed potatoes throughout the fall and winter months. I like to prepare extra butternut squash mash and freeze it to have on hand for a quick weeknight side dish. It makes a perfect addition to the Thanksgiving feast too!

Recipe by Michael Sullivan

1 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil
2 medium butternut squash (about 5 pounds), stemmed, seeded, and halved
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
2o fresh sage leaves, washed and dried
2 to 3 tablespoons heavy cream
1 tablespoon brown sugar
A pinch of freshly grated or ground nutmeg
Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Grease a foil-lined sheet pan with the olive oil. Lay the butternut squash halves cut-side down on the pan and place in the oven to roast for 40 to 50 minutes, until the skins have started to bubble or when the flesh is easily pierced with a knife. Remove the quash from the oven and let rest until cool enough to touch, but still very warm. 

Meanwhile, melt the butter in a small saute pan over medium-low heat. Once the butter has melted, add the sage leaves. Stir occasionally until the leaves are crisp and the butter has browned, about 5 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, remove the sage leaves from the butter and transfer them to a paper towel-lined plate. Set aside.

Scoop out the butternut squash flesh and transfer it to a medium bowl. Discard the skins. Use a potato masher to mash the squash, until the desired consistency is reached. Add the brown butter, cream, brown sugar, nutmeg, and salt and pepper to taste. Stir to combine, taste once more to adjust seasoning, and garnish with the crispy sage leaves.

Yield: about 8 servings

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