Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Butternut squash gratin

From this week: butternut squash

From weeks past: milk, shallot, fontina, goat cheese

Staples: salt, pepper, garlic

I'm a little bit of a food know-it-all. Okay, not just a little, a lot; I'm a lot of a food know-it-all. I am threatened by others in my life that cook, I hate it when I'm not the go-to person for people's food-related questions, I boss others (mainly Alex) when they have the audacity to try to cook for or with me, and I'm constantly waiting for new Food Network personalities to falter. "You didn't go to culinary school, did you?" I say as I change the channel.

But, duh, I didn't go to culinary school! And, the truth is, I really don't know much of anything. Yes, I am a sponge for anything food-related. I listen, watch, read, and (unfortunately) eat anything I can get my hands on. But my world is pretty small. I've never roasted a chicken; I don't know how to make French sauces; my knife skills are limited to chop, dice, and mince. And yet, I maintain that I am the queen of all home cooks.

An unhappy consequence of my dichotomously expansive confidence and paltry experience is that I sometimes come home from the grocery store with an ingredient I have no idea how to tackle. I'll have read about it, tasted it in a restaurant, and/or watched my Food Network faves cook it, and I'm certain that I love it and will make magic with it, but then I get home and I have no idea what to do with it.

That's what happened with this.

A stinkin' butternut squash. That's how much of a culinary simpleton I am; I've never even cooked a butternut squash. The recipe was actually the least of my worries. With all the reading/watching/eating I do, I'm familiar with the taste of butternut squash and flavors it goes well with. It was (obvi) the peeling that was a problem. I did some googling and tried various suggestions (hence the 4 peeling implements), but I can't say I'd recommend any of them. In the end, I got the thing peeled, and I have bloody knuckles to show for it.

But let me tell you, it really was worth the pain. Butternut squash is as awesome as I'd convinced myself it was, and its sweetness paired SO WELL with the rich shallot, the salty, melty, crusty fontina, and the tangy, creamy goat cheese. Thus, I'm as awesome as I'd convinced myself I was.

And so, in conclusion, I am a know-it-all... but only because I actually know it all.

Butternut squash gratin
Serves 4 as a side, 2-3 as a main

1 medium butternut squash, peeled, seeded, and sliced into 1/4 inch slices
1 thimble-sized shallot, diced
1 clove garlic, finely minced
1 cup shredded fontina cheese
3/4 cup 1% milk
2 oz goat cheese
salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 375. Toss together squash, shallot, garlic, salt, pepper, and half of fontina cheese, and place in an even layer in an 8x8" casserole dish. Pour milk over squash mixture and press squash down with the back of a spoon. Bake for an hour, pressing squash down every 20 minutes. After an hour, top with remaining fontina and crumble goat cheese over it. Return to oven and bake for 20 more minutes, or until brown and bubbly. Let rest for 5 minutes before serving.

1 comment:

  1. Hahaha!
    I am a kitchen know-it-all too...
    My motto is "fake it till you make it"
    Lets just say, I have been known to sign up to make something (usually for some large and important event) that I have never made before nor do I have the slightest idea how.