It’s fall, early November to be exact, when thoughts of Thanksgiving are in the air, and that means the number of squash, pumpkin, and pumpkin spice recipes have reached a critical mass. No one could possibly make them all without turning into a gourd of some kind, so does the world really need another? Normally, I’d say no and move on to something else banking on our mutual pumpkin fatigue, but in this case I just have to share this recipe because to horde it all to myself would be depriving you of something awesome.
Some recipes are the result of careful planning – an idea, some tests, and then a final version that corresponds with the initial light bulb concept – while others are a happy accident. This is one of the latter. Remember the Cider Braised Chicken & Apples from a few weeks ago? Notice the butternut squash in the photo? That was what I would consider a classic mash – squash roasted in the oven until soft, then stirred together with butter, kosher salt, and ground black pepper. Solidly tasty, but nothing earth shattering there.
The magic moment was when that earthy, slightly sweet puree met the tangy mustard-cider sauce and tart apples. It nearly stole the show from the chicken and I realized that I had to come up with a way to combine those flavors intentionally. This is that recipe. See, I’m a humanitarian, not just some shill for the squash lobby.
Herbed Butternut Squash & Apple Mash (serves 8-10)
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/4 cup (1 large) minced shallot
4 pounds (2 large) butternut squash
1 1/2 pounds (2-3 medium) tart, firm apples
1 cup dry hard apple cider (I used Angry Orchard Stone Dry)
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
1 tablespoon minced fresh thyme
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
Peel, de-seed and cut the butternut squash into 1/2 inch cubes. Mince the shallots, and peel, core and dice the apples in 1/2 inch pieces.
In a large pot or dutch oven, melt together the butter and olive oil over medium heat. Add the minced shallots and cook for 3-4 minutes until they begin to turn translucent, watch them to be sure they don’t burn. Add the butternut squash pieces and stir to coat with the shallots and butter. Cover and cook over medium heat for about 8 minutes until the squash is just beginning to soften, stirring occasionally to prevent the squash from burning.
Whisk together the hard cider, Dijon mustard, apple cider vinegar, kosher salt and black pepper. Add the mixture to the pot along with the diced apples and stir to combine. Cover and cook for 20-25 minutes or until the squash and apples are very tender. Stir periodically. Uncover and cook 5-7 minutes more until most of the liquid has evaporated. Finally, add the minced thyme to the pot and mash the squash and apples into a thick puree or process in a food processor, according to your preference. Check the seasoning and serve hot.
Recipe written with reference to Martha Stewart’s Butternut Squash Mash and Fine Cooking’s Braised Chicken Legs with Cider, Apples, and Mustard.
Small Kitchen Friendly?
Totally. I used my 5.5 qt French oven, which has taken up residence on the stovetop for the winter, a large cutting board, Y-shaped vegetable peeler, chef’s knife, a liquid measuring cup and spoons, and wooden spatula. I used a regular potato masher which gives the mash a chunkier, rustic texture, if you’d like more of a puree then a potato ricer or food processor is recommended.
Can you tell I'm excited about this recipe? It’s the perfect blend of comfort food flavors with the peace of mind that it’s actually pretty healthy. It’s also incredibly easy to make and can be made in advance, which means it’s the perfect thing to whip up and have on hand as an awesome side through the week. For example, I found this recipe for “Vermont” Roast Pork Loin on Food52 the other day, and I think they’d be heavenly together. The slightly sharp edge from the cider and mustard keep the apples and squash from being too heavy – an excellent compliment to all your wintery dishes.