Winter Squash with Maple Syrup
Squash is historically a staple crop throughout most of the Western hemisphere. Indeed intercropping of squash, beans and corn formed the fabled “Three Sisters”of the South West. These three plants grow harmoniously together, store well and when eaten together are nutritionally complete. Native Americans in the North East were collecting maple sap and cooking it down to use as a sweetener and flavoring. Added to squash it boosts the flavor. Allspice berries are collected from the Pimenta dioica tree native to Jamaica. Because it’s complex flavor reminded Europeans of cloves, pepper, cinnamon and even nutmeg it was dubbed Allspice. Peppers of course are native to the Americas. Chipotles are jalapenos, smoked and dried creating a unique flavor. Chipotles are also canned in adobo sauce and this can be substituted for the dried. Use sparingly at first as you can always adjust and add a little more.
I cooked an entire 10 pound heirloom Sweet Meat squash for this and used 1/3 for the mashed squash. My favorite is Oregon Homestead a superbly flavored selection from Carol Deppe who spent ten years in a process of always picking the best flavored, largest seeded and thickest walled. Set aside some squash for pie, make soup or freeze until needed. I find it easier to cook it all at once rather than store pieces of uncooked squash. Almost all canned “pumpkin” is actually squash. The old fashioned ‘Small Sugar Pumpkin” makes a fine pie.
Sweet Meat or other Winter Squash (3.5 pounds) 4 tablespoons butter
½ cup chopped onion
½ cup chicken broth
1/3 teaspoon ground allspice or cinnamon
½ teaspoon seed free dried chipotle pepper
1/3 cup real maple syrup
salt if needed
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Set deseeded squash halves, cut side up on a baking sheet. Bake until soft and fork tender, about 90 minutes, less if using smaller squash like Butternut. Remove from oven and when slightly cooled scoop out flesh to a large bowl.
In a medium sauce pan set on medium heat melt butter and saute’ onion until softened and translucent about 10 minutes. When onion is cooked add chicken broth, allspice and chipotle pepper to pan and simmer for two minutes. Add this mixture and maple syrup to pumpkin. Transfer in batches to a food processor and process until smooth. Season with salt as needed. This may be prepared several hours ahead and reheated before serving with a nice pat of butter swirled across the top.