If you are here, reading this, then it means you must have mustered up the ability to roll yourself out of bed this morning, which is generally a good sign. (It also means that I have mustered up the ability to roll myself out of bed this morning. Don’t look at me like that, considering the amount of food I consumed last night, me not being able to hoist myself out of bed was a distinct possibility.)
Dinner was held at my parents’ house in Queens. There were 11 of us in attendance: my immediate family (parents, brother, sister), my mom’s sister’s family (my aunt, uncle, and two cousins) and my mom’s cousin – my Aunt Jackie. A manageable number of people to cater to. Very much unlike the Thanksgivings of yore, when the entirety of my dad’s side of the family (we are talking 30+ people here) would gather in my uncle’s loft in lower Manhattan to have what can only be described as the most epic Thanksgiving celebrations ever. The whole thing was actually one huge tequila-drinking contest. Let’s just say I was inoculated into the world of Patron and Jose Cuervo very early on. Let’s also just say that it is a miracle that in all those years there was not a single car accident or DUI.
One would think that having fewer people at Thanksgiving would mean less food. Not the case. We could have fed thirty people. Easily. Fifty is probably a more accurate estimate. There was turkey, stuffing, green bean casserole, a brussels sprouts salad, a beet salad, mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, stuffed artichoke hearts, stuffed mushrooms, cranberry sauce (times two – homemade – my version, and canned – yuck), and an appetizer spread of hummus (mine also – cilantro hummus), guacamole, cheese, and crackers. Plus dessert (pumpkin pie, apple pie, berry pie, pecan pie, Italian pastries, cookies, and my bourbon pumpkin cheesecake that I am going to tease you with now and then use as fodder for a later post).
And, of course, there was the butternut squash puree that I made. You knew that I wasn’t going to go through Thanksgiving without a single winter squash recipe. That would be sacrilege at this point. And fairly dangerous since I’m pretty sure I would go through vitamin A withdrawal if I decreased my daily dosage so precipitously.
I also don’t want to mess with this nice orange hue that my skin has taken on from all of the beta-carotene. I hear the radioactive look is in this season. And I am nothing if not fashion forward.
This was not the butternut squash recipe I originally intended on making. But then I stumbled upon the Foodie Fans of the Pioneer Woman (via Muneeba’s lovely and completely droolworthy site). And saw that the first official challenge was to make one of PW’s Thanksgiving side or dessert dishes.
And I thought to myself, What is one more blog event in light of the five million that I already take part in? (I have them all inserted into my Google Calendar and I swear there is not a week in the next month without a blog event deadline. Be afraid. Be very afraid.)
So I high-tailed it over to Ree’s blog. And perused her Thanksgiving recipes. There was some drooling involved. And I may or may not have had to take a few cold showers.
Now I am a pacifist by nature. And also one to do what I’m told (maybe that is why I enjoy participating in blog events so much – they narrow down my menu choices to the point that I actually have no say at all whatsoever). So when Ree demanded that I try the butternut squash puree. And then added the threat of imminent attack if I didn’t. I obeyed.
And thankfully so. Because this was fantastic. Maybe it’s the butter, maybe it’s the maple syrup, or maybe it’s the combination of the two, but either way the squash absolutely melts in your mouth.
The kind of dish that you can’t stop eating even if you try. Even if you are stuffed. Even if you feel like your stomach will implode. You keep putting spoonful after spoonful into your mouth. Because you just don’t want the experience to end.
So I leave you with this. Try it. I probably won’t deck ya. But only because depriving your taste buds of this culinary experience will be punishment enough.
This is the fifth recipe in my 12 Weeks of Winter Squash!
Butternut Squash Puree
Serves 8-10, adapted from The Pioneer Woman Cooks
2 butternut squash (4-5 pounds worth)
1/4 cup maple syrup
4 oz butter
a bit of salt and pepper
1. Preheat the oven to 400. Cut the squash in half length-wise and scoop out the seeds and pulp.
2. Place on a baking pan, facedown, and pour a cup or so of water into the pan. Roast until fork-tender (about 50 minutes).
3. Cut the butter into small-ish pieces and place in a large bowl. When the squash is done, scoop the flesh into the bowl, on top of the butter. Mash it using a potato masher. Pour in the maple syrup. Mash again. Add some salt and pepper to taste. Serve it like this or puree it in the food processor for a smoother squash experience. I only have a small food processor so I pureed about half of it and then got tired. And hungry.