In the past, I’ve normally used an acorn squash for this recipe, but recently our CSA share included some curious little heirloom squash that seemed to be a good fit. Actually, the name of the squash eluded me at the time I was getting ready to cook them, and one of them was shaped like an acorn, so I figured I would use them since they fit the part. As it turned out (after looking them up later on the website), these were Sugar Dumpling squash, and they were not just a good fit – they were perfect.
- 2 Sugar Dumpling squash (about the size of grapefruit – they look like a yellow and green miniature pumpkin, but may be acorn-shaped)
- 2 tbsp grass-fed butter, melted
- 2 tbsp organic pure maple syrup
- 2 tbsp bourbon of your choice
- 1/2 tsp sea salt
- 1/2 tsp ground white pepper
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Cut the squash in half and scrape out all of the seeds and stringy stuff. Try, if you can, to cut them in such a way that you end up with two of the “ribs” spaced on either side of the middle of the half – so that they will lay on a baking pan cut side up without falling over (they’ll still shake like a pan of Weeble Wobbles). Arrange the halves on a rimmed baking sheet or bar pan – leaning them against each other or making some foil “wedges” if needed to keep them from tipping over.
Combine the melted butter, maple syrup, bourbon, salt, and white pepper in a small prep bowl. Using a basting brush or a spoon, coat the cut surface of the squash with the mixture. Divide the remaining liquid equally between the four “bowls.”
Place the pan in the heated oven and set the timer for 20 minutes. When the timer goes off, use a long-handled spoon and carefully spoon some of the hot liquid from each of the “bowls” over the cut surfaces. If you spill some over the sides, don’t worry about it too much (that’s why we’re using a rimmed dish). Re-set the timer for another 10 minutes.
After the additional 10 minutes, repeat the spooning process. Then, using a long-handled fork or skewer, poke into the squash in the middle of the bottom to test for tenderness (try not to poke fully through the skin). They should be starting to soften, but not yet be fully done – yielding to medium pressure. If they are still hard, reset the timer for another 5 minutes and check again. When they are getting close to fully tender, stab into the flesh of each squash a few times (again, not through the skin) below the level of the liquid so that it can soak down in a little deeper. Close the oven and let them go for about 5 minutes longer (we should be at about 35 to 40 minutes total now).
When they are tender to your liking, remove them from the oven. Using a spoon, remove the excess liquid from each bowl (you can save in a bowl if you like, but you don’t need to). Cut each half into thirds and serve along side some garlic-rubbed steaks or a perfectly done roast and a salad. Enjoy!