I tried a new recipe last night- seasoned roasted butternut squash with chicken sausage. It was yummy.
(Warning: this post contains the most profanity per paragraph than any piece I’ve written about food, or even parenting, for that matter.)
Cutting that damn squash would prove to be The Biggest Pain in The Ass of The Week. It’s as tough as spaghetti squash, if not tougher; tough enough that even my best Cutco knife was going to have trouble dealing with it.
I searched for video tips online…as I watched, I felt a pit in my stomach: I have to peel it?? I obviously did not know what I was getting myself into. That’s when I began to have some serious doubts: at the store I’d opted for the whole squash instead of the pre-cut, pre-peeled, pre-packaged version. I will now refer to this as my pre-insanity self.
The video instructed me to pierce the squash, and then microwave for two minutes, which I did. I added another minute for good measure.
Then I was supposed to cut off each end, and cut it down the middle. I must not have the right knife, because my brand-new serrated edge was not entirely right for the job.. I made one cut, the knife got stuck- because even after microwaving for three minutes, the squash was still really hard. I yanked the knife out, keenly aware that this is how people end up with stitches. I turned the damn thing, made another cut and repeated the process until I had made an utter mess of the end of the squash, each cut more crooked and slightly off from the last one. Shreds and pieces of squash were all over the counter and stuck to my socks.
In case you’re wondering, I didn’t do any better with the other end. It was just as much of a hot mess.
I cut it down the middle with moderate success, that is to say, there was no bleeding or swearing here. Now I had two hard pieces of squash with flat ends that I was faced with peeling. There isn’t a peeler in my kitchen capable of this job. Maybe there are commercial peelers cut out for this, but no one I know has one.
I balanced one section of the squash on the edge of the cutting board and dragged my peeler down the side, but not hard enough because barely any rind comes off. I went over it a second time with more force, pulling off the rind and banging my knuckles onto the counter. Here’s where it gets fun: each time I don’t use enough force, I can’t peel off the rind. Each time I use the right amount of force, I bang my knuckles onto the counter as the peeler reaches the end of the squash. Peel, scrape, bang. Ouch. Peel, scrape, bang. Ouch. Shit.
At least the damn squash stayed put because I cut “flat” ends on it.
I glanced at the clock, realizing this is taking way more time than I planned for.
“Dinner’s going to be a little late!” I called out to my family. And then I realized that it probably doesn’t matter- my kids aren’t going to eat this anyway.
After considerable effort, and multiple swollen and red knuckles, both halves of the squash are peeled. I scoop out the seeds, arguably the easiest part, except for the eating of it, which at this point I wonder if we’ll ever get to that tonight.
I now have four quarters of peeled butternut squash that look exactly like the pre-packaged versions I passed up in the produce section, when I scoffed at the price, naively telling myself, “Self, you can do this easily…”
If I could go back in time, I’d probably slap my Self and tell her to cough up the extra $6, and save the 75 minutes of prep time.
I used the sharpest knife I have to cut the quarters into bite-size pieces. More than a few times I caught my breath as I forced the knife through this cement-block of a gourd, wondering if I will make it through this with all my digits intact.
I put the bite-size pieces into the microwave steamer, and I steamed those bitches for six minutes more (it takes two batches). Because I don’t know who came up with this recipe, but there’s no way on this planet (or in hell, for that matter) those little rock nuggets are roasting until done-ness in thirty minutes.
Ultimately, the final dish was met with approval by both me and my husband. (The kids, predictably, did not try it. Youngest Son actually vacated the kitchen area after listening to me swear at the squash multiple times.) The squash roasted to a lovely done-ness, thanks to my foresight and the power of the microwave.
The additional power of foresight will have me buying the pre-packaged butternut squash next time. Just in case you hadn’t figured that out by now.