I know I’m not the first person to come up with this idea, but I didn’t want to search around for a recipe that would work with what I had on hand. For as much as I cook, I’m quite lazy about making grocery store runs–hence why my recipes tend to have a lot of repeat ingredients. Besides, I had enough things in the fridge that I figured I could throw something together that wouldn’t taste horrible. Dinner in my house is much like an episode of Chopped–open the basket and cook with what’s inside.
Lucky for me, there was some sausage leftover from making the Braciole (can’t let that go to waste, right?), a bulb of fennel (never did make that batch of Fennel-Onion Jam I wanted to), fresh sage (why do I have sage? It’s January.), some mushrooms (the Braciole again… kinda starting to get embarrassed now), and an onion. I can work with this.
Cook with me…
- 1 Acorn squash
- 1/2 lb ground sausage
- 1 fennel bulb, thinly sliced
- 1/2 onion, thinly sliced
- 2 cloves garlic, sliced
- 6 white mushrooms, sliced with stems removed
- 3-4 TBSP butter
- 1/2 tsp kosher salt, plus a little extra
- 1/2 tsp coconut palm sugar
- 1/4 tsp ground white pepper
- Optional: a tablespoon of fresh sage, chopped
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
Open the squash, use a spoon to scoop out the pulp and seeds. Score the squash. Place the squash in your roasting dish of choice, add a half cup of water to the pan. Sprinkle each with the coconut palm sugar, ground white pepper and the kosher salt. Heads up – the measurements cover both pieces, divvy it up evenly.
Cube one tablespoon of butter and place around the inside of the squash. If you’d like a little more butter, go for it. Even though it’s all going to pool up while cooking, I think I feel better about it by trying to spread the cubes around. That’s probably just me though…
Pop into the oven, set the timer for an hour.
Now onto the filling.
Grab the fennel, chop off the top with all the crazy fronds. I don’t hang on to those unless I want to garnish or add something fancy to a salad or soup. Tonight, they got tossed. Cut the end off the other side. The core in a fennel bulb is tough, so I trim off as much as I can without digging into the bulb too much. Set it on the cutting board core side down and cut in half. Turn each half on their side and slice thinly. Do the same for the half onion and garlic as well. The mushrooms should be sliced too, but don’t worry about going thin. They shrink a lot. In fact, all of this is going to caramelize and reduce quite a bit. You really can’t go wrong…
Heat up your favorite sauté pan (large enough to hold all of what you just sliced) to about medium temp. Add 2 tablespoons of butter, let it melt, then put in the fennel, onion, garlic and a pinch of salt. We want to caramelize this slowly, not fry. After all, that squash still has about 40-45 minutes left to go, right? We’ve got time.
If at any point this starts to dry out, cover the sauté pan and reduce the heat slightly. The natural moisture will help bring it back around. After about 10 minutes everything should be softened a bit. Add the ground sausage to the pan and make sure the temperature is between medium to medium-high. The sausage needs to brown.
I didn’t take a picture, but should have at this point. I like to shift the fennel-onion-mushroom over to one side of the pan and cook the sausage on the other. Then when the the sausage is nearly done I’ll combine everything and finish it together. I find this easier than constantly juggling bowls, but I’m concerned I may have created some confusion here. As long as you end up with cooked veggies and cooked meat, it makes no matter to me how you arrived there.
The filling should be done before the squash so just cover the pan and take it off the heat. It’s fine to hang out.
When the squash is ready, remove it from the oven and spoon the melted butter sauce around the edges to rehydrate. The scoring will help the butter to be better absorbed.
I cut each half in half and consider that a portion size. Place on the plate and spoon some filling on. Done.
And if you think this is all we had for dinner, well… you’d be wrong. We’re big eaters around here, so I also roasted up some pork steaks. Needless to say, there wasn’t much conversation at the dinner table tonight.