Friday, October 8, 2010

In Praise of the Braise: Butternut Squash-Rosemary Puree


When the trees change colors and the air acquires that crisp snap of fall, the slow cooker returns to my kitchen counter. After months of quickly cooked (if at all) vegetables and grilled meats, braising re-enters my culinary vocabulary and not a minute too soon.

Braising, slow cooking, stewing all give us the luxury of time. Throw a handful of hard, sinewy, ingredients, add a liquid, maybe a few, and a certain alchemy occurs. I particularly love when you start the process early on in the day, depart, and return to the aromas of the hearth.

This has been a busy week for me, a good one as well. Due to my organization Purple Asparagus' involvement in Healthy Schools Campaign's Chefs in the Classroom Day, my face has been seen in several media outlets, including the Chicago Tribune and ABC7, and my voice heard on WBBM. I've received word yesterday that I may even get a picture in the Washington Post (but, shhh, I'd hate to spread it around and then it not happen).

On a week like this, short on time, long on stress, I love the braise - delicious dinner with minimum of effort. I made the recipe from my last post Beef Braised with Wine and Onions. Using an arm roast, the meat turned out sturdy, yet silky. I served these wide strands of meat enveloped with a slightly acidic sauce atop Butternut Squash-Rosemary Puree. Even Little Locathor ate every bite.

Butternut Squash-Rosemary Puree
Serves 3

1 small butternut squash
1/4 cup heavy cream
1 teaspoon chopped rosemary
1 minced garlic clove
salt to taste

Preheat the oven to 350 F. Halve the squash and remove the seeds. Line a baking sheet with silpat or parchment and set the squash flesh side down. Roast until tender approximately 40 minutes. Let cool slightly and then puree in a food processor. Heat the cream, rosemary and garlic in a small saucepan to a simmer. Cook for 5 minutes. Pour the cream through the feeding tube and puree with the squash. Season with salt and pepper.

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