This dish is, if anything, intriguing. It’s not plain creamy, or cheesy, or any of the other qualities that make mac and cheese oh-so-irresistible. It’s not comforting, either, at least in my book. It makes you think, which is saying a lot for someone who thinks for a living. But I really shouldn’t be surprised, given who this pretty little creation comes from.
. Any idea who I’m referencing now? I just got his
cookbook in the mail, along with a very bendable mini-tripod and some hope that my photography might improve. And immediately, I nestled into the couch and started to read. No, he’s not a writer; his prose reminds me of a school boy’s, actually, though it’s improved immeasurably since this one
came out. But he’s hilarious, has turned his fame into a vehicle for championing quality food for everyone, and happens to be a pretty good chef.
His flavor combinations are familiar, but somehow unlike anything I would have come up myself. They work somehow, in an unexpected way. So I’m sharing this one with you, because it’s worth trying, just once. Even if you only have whole milk and cheddar in the house, and don’t feel like trekking to the store.
I used a local pear wine in this dish, which worked pretty well, but any white wine will do. Cream and parmesan, as the recipe originally called for, would have been better than the whole milk and parmesan I actually used, but the flavor was still quite good. The consistency wasn’t quite what I wanted, but I made do. If you happen to find yourself in my predicament, make a béchamel sauce with a bit of butter, milk, and cream, and add the nutmeg and cheese to the sauce. If not, use the cream. Go on — you know you want to.
Creamy Butternut Squash
- 1 medium butternut squash, peeled, de-seeded, and sliced into 1″ pieces.
- 1 heaped teaspoon coriander seeds, smashed. I used a mortar and pestle, but the seeds are probably soft enough to crush under a spoon.
- 1-2 dried red chillies, crumbled.
- 1 t. dried thyme. The original recipe calls for fresh thyme, but dried is all I had on hand.
- sea salt, freshly ground black pepper, to taste.
- olive oil.
- 1 c. whole milk, + 2 T. sour cream. Use 1 c. + 2 T. light cream instead, or make a béchamel sauce for a creamier consistency.
- 1 t. nutmeg. Freshly ground nutmeg is nice, but if you only have the pre-ground spice, go for it.
- 1 c. Chardonnay or dry white wine.
- 2 handfuls cheddar cheese. Jamie Oliver uses parmesan, and I can see how that would work better here.
Preheat the oven to 400°F.
Toss the butternut squash pieces with the coriander, thyme, chili, salt, pepper, and a tablespoon or so of olive oil. Place in a square baking dish (I used 8″x8″, but my squash was small), cut a piece of wax paper to fit over the top, and then pop in the oven for 30 minutes or so, until the squash is easily pierced with a fork. In the meantime, measure the milk and sour cream (light cream or bechamel) into a bowl, grate the nutmeg into the milk, add the white wine and cheese, and stir until the nutmeg is evenly distributed.
When the squash is ready, remove from the oven, discard the wax paper, and pour the milk mixture over the top of the squash. Place back in the oven and bake for 10 or so minutes more, until the cheese is bubbly and golden brown.