Sous Vide: Butternut Squash Diversified

While sous vide's suitability for protein is well established, the process also brings a surprising vibrancy to winter squash.

Ingredients

Butternut Squash, 1 each. approximately 2.5 lb. creates:

Wedges, 4, approximately 5 oz/140 g each.

Barrel, approximately 20 oz/550 g.

 

 

 

Equipment requirements
Immersion circulator.
Lipavi C15 heat rated container with lid.
Lipavi L15 rack or equivalent.
Heat rated sous vide bags.

 

Above: Lipavi C15 container, N15 polycarbonate rack. Lipavi C15L lid.

Level of difficulty: 2.00

Procedure:

Try to select a squash that is fairly uniform in shape with a relatively large “barrel” on the one end. Wash the vegetable in cold water and pat dry. Some discoloration of the surface may remain as a result of exposure to direct sunlight and other weather conditions. Cut the squash in half as pictured, separating the barrel section from the spherical section.

Preheat the sous vide bath to 183 F/84 C.

Set the barrel shaped section aside for the time being.

Thinking it through

Do not attempt to peel the spherical end. Cut in half lengthwise, exposing the seeds.

Cut in half again, creating four wedges. These wedges weigh approximately 5.5 oz/150 g each.

Use a spoon to remove the seeds by “catching the corner” at either end. With a little attentiveness, the seeds will all come out at once. Discard the seeds.

Vacuum seal the individual wedges in heat rated plastic bags. Set aside.

A little planning goes a long way

Use a vegetable peeler to remove the husk from the uniform surface in long strokes. This skin is thicker than most vegetables so it is a good idea to peel it “twice” to assure there is none left when you’re done.

Lay the squash down on its side and use the peeler to finish removing the skin from the curved end.  Cut off the tough stem.

Vacuum seal the whole barrel in a heat rated plastic bag.

Load the packaged squash into racks.

Process at 183 F/84 C for 60-90 minutes. Inherent variations in individual characteristics and ripeness of the vegetable can affect the interval slightly. Doneness can be tested by lightly squeezing the package. Because of the unique characteristics of sous vide processing, the vegetable softens uniformly from surface to center.

When the vegetable yields to a gentle pinch, it is done all the way through.

Cool down

Once the process is completed, cold shock the packages in iced tap water until they achieve 70 F/21 C. Refrigerate at 40 F/4 C. The squash is now fully denatured, pasteurized and preserved. The sealed packages can be safely held refrigerated in this state for at least one month without deteriorating in quality, texture or appearance.

Options

alla griglia

The barrel end can be cut into wedges and seasoned with salt, pepper, and a dash of nutmeg. Coat with a small amount of oil and simply grill in a cast iron broiler pan as above. Drizzle with honey and sprinkle with fresh chopped parsley or mint.

Sweet potato style

The cylinder can be cut into thick slices, sprinkled with cinnamon and heated in a 350 F/176 C oven (or even carefully microwaved). Garnish with caramel coated walnuts and orange wedges. Drizzle with maple syrup and melted butter.

Butternut squash “bacon” 

Click on the link above to see the full recipe!

Makes a great sandwich!

Butternut squash gnocchi

Butternut squash tortellini

Norm

Makes a terrific accompaniment with meat dishes! Above and below, smoked pork butt with radishes and assorted sauces.

About

Contrary to some newcomers' expectations, sous vide is not intended to replace other forms of cooking. When used to hybridize pre-existing recipes, it can facilitate, simplify and otherwise improve results. Such is the case with any winter squash--acorn, Hubbard, pumpkin, etc. Butternut squash has some advantages over the other varieties. The surface is typically smooth, making the fruit easier to peel. The seeds are also concentrated in one end of the squash. This creates a solid, barrel shaped cylinder at the other end, which makes it efficient for creating uniform shapes.

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