Culinary Skillz

Well, my first (and nearly second) week of graduate school is behind me. I’m still standing, I’m tired, but I’m still standing. I thought this post would be a good opportunity to share with you a little of what I’ve been doing in school thus far.

My Culinary Skill course challenged us to choose a lesson from The Kitchn’s Cooking School and practice the technique we were least familiar with. As you may have gathered, I don’t usually cook with meat, and so the techniques you often associate with such are less frequently practiced in my kitchen.

I chose Lesson 19: Broil & Sear, and opted to use their recipe for Pan-Seared Butternut Squash as my exercise.

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The recipe is simple enough, and the main ingredient is one that I already know and love (love, love, love). Gather ingredients, cube squash, sear in pan with aromatics, toss in vinaigrette, scarf.

This recipe did give me the excuse that I needed to finally buy a bottle of pomegranate molasses from the New Privileges market, so that was perhaps an ulterior motivation. If you were wondering, pomegranate molasses is delicious and you should absolutely buy it and figure out what to do with it later. If you were also wondering, pomegranate molasses is totally easy to find and I definitely didn’t spend half an hour wandering back and forth from baking supplies to ethnic foods and back again, continuing to overlook it staring me in the face.

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Pan-Seared Butternut Squash with Balsamic & Parmesan
Adapted very slightly from The Kitchn. Apparently it serves 4, unless you’re appetite for squash is like mine, then it only serves 2.

1 medium butternut squash (2lbs) peeled, seeded, and cubed 3/4″
5 fresh sage leaves, chiffonade
Leaves from 4 fresh thyme sprigs
4 T olive oil, divided
1 tsp pomegranate molasses
2 T balsamic vinegar
coarse sea salt & black pepper, to taste
Parmesan (shredded or shaved), to taste/serve

1. In a large cast iron or sauté pan, heat 2 T of the oil over medium-high heat. Once oil is hot, add aromatics (sage and thyme) and pan fry for 30 seconds, then add squash and quickly toss to coat. Lay the squash out in a single layer, allow to cook about 5 minutes, try not to stir. Salt and pepper a little here.

2. Lower hear to medium and cook another 10 minutes, stirring occasionally but allowing to brown and (gasp) char a little. Continue to cook until cubes are soft throughout.

3. While squash is cooking, whisk molasses, balsamic, and remaining oil, set aside.

4. After squash is cooked, transfer to serving dish and return pan to burner. Using the residual heat of the burner and pan, add vinaigrette to pan and use a wooden spoon to scrape all of the remaining pieces of squash and herb into the sauce, be careful not to breathe in too deeply here, once sauce has thickened, transfer back to bowl and give it a good whisk with a fork before drizzling over squash. Sprinkle with Parmesan, salt and pepper to taste. Enjoy!

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Until next time,
Dretta

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