Monday, November 11, 2013

Thanksgiving Recipes - Roasted Acorn Squash with Orange Rice Stuffing


 From the Kitchens of Cheesecake Farms
www.CheesecakeFarms.com


Here's a nifty little recipe that we're asked for all the time. 
It's yummy, easy and very forgiving.

Great for fall and winter dining!
Perfect for Thanksgiving!

BTW, unblemished acorn squash from your garden or farmers' market
(even grocery store squash)
will last for months in a cool spot like a mud room or unheated basement. 
 No need to wash, can or freeze.  
Just put into a box, milk crate or laundry basket.
So stock up when they're in season and cheap.
You can enjoy them all winter long!!  




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Roasted Acorn Squash with Orange Rice Stuffing

Serves 6

3 acorn squash (each about 3 inches in diameter - see Karla's Tips #1 below)
3 cups cooked rice (any kind - we like jasmine rice)
1/4 cup sweet orange marmalade (see Karla's Tips #2 below)
Salt and pepper to taste
1/4 cup butter (margarine or oil not recommended)
1/3 cup sliced, natural almonds (the kind with the brown skins - see Karla's Tips # 3 below)
Parsley for garnish - about 4 springs to yield about 2 tablespoons, snipped or chopped
3 tablespoons honey (more or less to taste)
3/4 cup (approximately) thin vegetable or chicken gravy
Parsley for garnish

Position oven rack to center oven.  Preheat to 375 degrees. (See Karla's Tip #4 below)

Wash squash well.  Remove any labels.

Using a heavy knife, carefully cut each squash in half from the stem end to the (pointed) blossom end.  Remove seeds and any fibrous material.  Discard.  Rinse squash again.  Drain.

Cover a baking sheet with foil. (See Karla's Tips #5.) Spritz with cooking spray. 

Place squash, cut side down, on prepared pan.  Roast till soft - about 45 minutes depending on the size and freshness of the squash. (I like a bit of brown on the cut sides)

While squash is roasting:
Cook rice. (Using leftover rice is OK).  Stir orange marmalade into hot rice.  Add salt and pepper to taste.  Set aside.

Melt butter in a small frying pan.  Add almonds. Cook over low heat, uncovered and stirring occasionally, until very light brown.  Do not over cook.  When done, immediately stop the cooking by pouring the almonds and the butter out of pan and into a bowl.  Set aside.

Finely snip (using scissors works great) or chop parsley leaves for garnish.  Set aside.

To assemble squash: 
Heat gravy.

Put roasted squash, cut side up, onto serving dish.  Press down lightly so squash doesn't roll around on dish.  

Divide honey between the squash - drizzling into the cavities.

Fill cavities with orange rice.  

Pour hot gravy over rice - dividing evenly.  

Top with prepared almonds.  

Keep warm until serving time. (See Karla's Tips # 6)  

Sprinkle with parsley before serving.

  
Karla's Tips
1.  The most important part of this recipe is choosing the squash.  It should be dark green with only a little (if any) yellow or orange.  Yellow or orange (on a green acorn squash) means that the squash is starting to over-ripen.  There is a variety of orange acorn squash but I don't find them as good tasting as the dark green kind. 

The squash can be any size but it must be heavy for its size.  A "heavy for its size" squash means it weighs more than you thought it would.  It will be fresh and full of moisture.  

A squash that's light for it's size is old (even if the skin looks OK) and the natural moisture has started to evaporate. It will taste bitter and be dry.

2.  "Sweet Orange Marmalade" is different from plain "Orange Marmalade".   Both kinds of marmalade have the same amount of sugar.
Sweet Orange Marmalade is made without the white pith of the orange so it is not bitter.  
Plain Orange Marmalade is made with the pith.  It is bitter. 

3.  "Natural almonds" have the brown skin left on which makes for a nicer look.  
You can use "blanched almonds" if you prefer or happen to have them on hand.  Blanched means the brown skin has been removed. 

4.  The exact temperature of the oven doesn't matter.  You can roast the squash along with anything else you're roasting - adjusting the roasting time according to the temperature of the oven.  

Oven temperatures lower than the suggested 375 degrees will require longer roasting.  

Higher oven temperatures require less roasting time.  

Also, the size of the squash will determine the exact roasting time.

Avoid roasting the squash when baking a cake or bread - unless the cake or bread will be done way before the squash.  You can open the oven door on the squash but not on a baking cake.

5.  A pan with sides no higher than 1 inch works best.  The sides keep the squash from sliding off the pan when you put them into the oven or take them out.  But any pan will work.....even a cookie sheet - just be careful.  

Pans with sides higher than 1 inch will require longer roasting.

6.  Squash can be prepared up to an hour before serving. Simply cover pan/or heat safe serving dish of rice stuffed squash with foil and place in the oven (200-250 degrees).  Spritz foil with cooking spray to prevent rice from sticking.  You can also refrigerate stuffed squash and microwave (uncovered) to heat just before serving. 


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