Today we’re preparing one of my Fall Favorites – Stuffed Acorn Squash. While today’s stuffed acorn squash can be a meal unto itself, alongside vegetable pasta, or even seared steaks, today’s recipe would be absolutely delicious.
Hardy, warming, and encompassing all of the quintessential flavors of the fall season, today’s recipe is sure to be the star of your autumn table.
Baking an Acorn Squash – Some Tips
1) Picking your Squash. You want an acorn squash that is roughly a 60-40 divide between deep green and light orange, or that roughly has the look of large ‘patches’ of orange set against a deep green backdrop. The colors should also be dull or muted, rather than shiny. Finally, the acorn should be quite firm to the touch, and heavy in the hand.
2) Leave the Skin. The skin in this case is basically the ‘bowl’ of today’s recipe. The skin holds the acorn in place during cooking, as well as during serving and eating. That said, the skin starts its life hard to the point of being ‘shell-like,’ and after baking it should be leathery. While it’s not meant to be eaten, it ‘is’ technically edible, just not palatable. That said, leave the skin in place. Removing the skin at any point during this recipe process will result in a mess.
3) Dry Baking vs Water Bath Baking. Neither method is inherently ‘better’ than the other, instead they are used to achieve different results. If you’re looking to eat the acorn ‘on its own,’ or as a side to a main course, dry baking the acorn brushed either some melted butter or olive oil and seasonings is the way to go. However, if you’re looking to stuff your squash, I suggest baking in a water bath, since this method maintains the squash’s original shape much more reliably, and with far less ‘crinkling’ of the skin and less charring of the surface of the squash touching the pan.
4) Positioning Matters. I note in my recipe that you want to place the acorn ‘cut side down,’ meaning to face the ‘meat’ of the acorn in the water of the baking dish. This may seem counter intuitive, but if you start with the skin side down, the skin will be overbaked by the time the recipe is complete, or simply wither, and since the skin is holding today’s recipe together, you don’t want that. Instead, you want it to become ‘leathery’ during an initial ‘dry’ baking phase.
5) Scoop Gently. While you want to be thorough in removing the seeds and ‘strings’ that comprise the acorn’s interior, bear in mind that the ‘harder’ you dig or ‘scoop’ the more you disturb the flesh of the acorn, which is ‘not’ what you want to do for today’s recipe, where the ‘bowl shape’ of the squash is paramount to the success of the recipe.
1) Cutting the Acorn Squash. Cutting or leaving the stem is largely optional, although some prefer it intact for aesthetics. However, the proper way to cut an acorn squash for today’s recipe is to begin at the top of the squash, just off of the ‘root’ or ‘base’ of the stem. Insert the knife until its point has cleared the interior ‘flesh,’ and begin cutting in slow, precise movements around the circumference of the squash until you have reached the opposite end of the base of the stem, such that you have cut the squash in half. Then carefully separate the squash, and you’re done.
2) Taste as you go. One thing that I learned early on in cooking is that you really have to develop your palate to ‘taste as you go.’ For example, in preparing the filling of today’s recipe, once you have combined the cooked wild rice with the cooked crumbled sausage, I suggest that you taste for seasonings to see if it matches your preference, and then adjust accordingly.
Other Great Fall Favorites
1) One Pan Skillet Chicken with Peppers. Spicy, hardy, and super easy to make. This recipe is must for busy autumn nights.
2) Stuffed Bell Peppers. Similar to today’s recipe, but featuring a slightly more mediteranean flavor profile with the addition of capers, Italian style breadcrumbs, and whole fresh cilantro.
3) Homemade Pumpkin Spice. Making your own pumpkin spice is probably the simplest thing in the world. Add it to coffee, whipped cream, cakes, or even soups, this is something you’ll want to have in your Fall recipe repertoire.
If You Enjoyed Today’s Recipe…
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Enjoy with Love!