Tuesday, November 8, 2011
Butternut Squash- Polenta Gratin
Every October, I wait with bated breath for the Thanksgiving editions of my various magazine subscriptions to arrive. The beautiful turkeys on the covers send shivers of excitement down my spine, but the recipes I am most eager to pour over are the side dishes. In the months leading up to Thanksgiving, I keep a running list of side dishes that I think sound interesting. Then I send the list to my mom and she tells me that it is unreasonable to make twenty side dishes for ten people. Once I count all of the traditional sides (mashed potatoes, stuffing, cranberry sauce, etc.) I usually only have room for one experimental dish. As a result, I have to discard my list of potentially amazing recipes.
But as I started compiling my list for this year, I had an epiphany! Why am I only allowed to make side dishes for Thanksgiving? I should incorporate recipes from my list into meals throughout the fall. The recipes usually have many flavors that would pair well with simple roasted chicken or seared steak. Plus, since the side dishes are intended to be served at a big holiday gathering, they are often easy to make ahead of time and then heat up at the last minute. Plus, my blog gave me the perfect excuse- because if I share my thanksgiving recipes AFTER the big day, they won’t be helpful to anyone this year! So I will try to post a few more recipes over the next few weeks to fuel everyone’s thanksgiving ideas! Most of these would also be great additions to a Christmas dinner as well.
This recipe was very easy- I actually prepared the whole meal, went to my volleyball game for an hour, then came home and stuck everything in the oven. I made roasted leg of lamb and Brussels sprouts to go with the gratin. The leftovers were also delicious topped with a fried egg for breakfast.
BUTTERNUT SQUASH- POLENTA GRATIN
adapted from Food & Wine
makes 12 servings
One 1 1/2-pound butternut squash
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
Salt and freshly ground pepper
2 quarts plus 2 cups water
2 cups instant polenta (12 ounces)
1 stick (4 ounces) unsalted butter
1 1/3 cups freshly grated Parmesan cheese (4 ounces)
Preheat the oven to 375°. Butter a 15-by-10-inch ceramic baking dish. Cut off the bulb end of the squash and halve it lengthwise. Scoop out the seeds. Drizzle the halves with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Set the squash halves on a small baking sheet, cut side down, and bake in the lower third of the oven for 30 minutes, or until tender. Scrape the squash flesh into a medium bowl and mash with a fork.
Meanwhile, peel the squash neck and halve it lengthwise. Using a sharp knife or a mandoline, slice the squash crosswise 1/8 inch thick. Lightly oil 2 large rimmed baking sheets and arrange the squash slices on them. Cover with foil and bake in the upper third of the oven for 12 minutes, or until tender. Reduce the oven temperature to 350°.
In a large saucepan, bring the water to a boil. Add the 2 tablespoons of olive oil and slowly add the polenta, whisking constantly until smooth. Reduce the heat to low and whisk until thickened, about 5 minutes. Whisk in the mashed squash. Stir in 6 tablespoons of the butter and 1 cup of the Parmesan and season with salt and pepper. Spread the polenta in the prepared baking dish and arrange the baked squash slices on top in an overlapping pattern.
Cut the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter into small pieces and scatter them over the gratin. Sprinkle the remaining 1/3 cup of cheese over the top and bake in the upper third of the oven for 1 hour, or until bubbling and golden. Let stand for 15 minutes before serving.
Make Ahead The recipe can be prepared through Step 3 and refrigerated for up to 5 days. Bring to room temperature before baking.
ROASTED LEG OF LAMB WITH GARLIC
makes 4 servings
3 lb boneless leg of lamb
4 cloves of garlic, roughly chopped
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
juice from 1 lemon
2 teaspoons kosher salt
Combine lamb along with other ingredients in a large plastic bag. Marinate at room temperature for at least 2 hours or in the fridge overnight. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Transfer the lamb to a foil covered pan and season with more salt. Roast for about 45 minutes, until an instant read thermometer registers 125 degrees. Transfer the lamb to a cutting board, tent with foil, and let rest for 15 minutes before slicing and serving.