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Stuffing Acorn Squash

Having had lots of squash around this winter I've been trying out lots of things to do with it, including stuffing acorn squash. I'm looking for a savory stuffing that makes it more like a meal than a side dish, but I have yet to find the right thing. First I tried a rice and sausage stuffing hat called for some of the squash to be scraped out and mixed with the filling - the end result was to lose the flavor of the squash entirely, making it just a paste to hold the other stuff together. Then I tried an orzo and cheese filling that left the squash whole - this turned out basically like mac'n'cheese in squash, with no mixing of flavors at all really. It was like two separate dishes. So, does anyone have a good recipe for stuffed squash where the flavor of the squash is retained AND the flavors of the stuffing really work with it?

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  1. I like acorn squash stuffed with the type fo sausage stuffing you'd use for a turkey, a little heavier on the sausage. Either breakfast or sweet Italian sausage, browned in bean-sized bits, with onion, celery, wheat and/or cornbread, apple, cider, egg, chicken stock, and a light hand on the sage, salt, and pepper. The vegetables and apple are added to the partially-cooked sausage, sauteeing all together until nearly completely cooked, then adding the bread, liquids, and seasoning. Brush the squash cavity with cider and melted butter, sprinkle with S&P, then mound in the stuffing, brush with melted butter, and bake at 350 until squash is tender and stuffing has a browned crust.

    1. I sometimes mix coarsely ground veal and pork. I heat some oil and saute some chopped onion and garlic, then add the ground meat just long enough to brown it slightly. I pour off the oil, cool it below 150 degrees, mix in a binder (usually raw egg) and S&P to taste, then I use the mixture to stuff the acorn squash. Before stuffing, I find that I sometimes have to spoon our a bit of the squash to make room for the meat (depends on the squash) and then I scrape the surface of the squash flesh with a fork, spread on a layer of unsalted butter, stuff the squash and bake until done.
      Meat and squash maintain distinct flavor profiles and the sticky mass that results from rice, bread, and other starch based stuffing (rice or potatoes go on the side) are eliminated.
      Squash is a starch. Stuffing a starch with another starch just doesn't make sense to me.

      1. I have never considered stuffing an acorn squash! I would think a simple stuffing would be best.... something like rice, chestnuts and sage for example would balance nicely. At Thanksgiving, I always love it when my creamed onions flow into my acorn squash, so maybe there is a flavor combination there that could be incorporated.

        1. I liked this Chow recipe for a stuffing of wild rice, pecans and cranberries: http://www.chow.com/recipes/13566 . I bet it would work to add some meat to the stuffing as well.

          1. I can't add for the stuffing, as the flavour is too strong for me on it's own. I use it for soups (pureed), sauces, or stuffing ravioli.

            1. Although it seems a bit early, considering the ocean is still in the mid-70s and the air a good 10 degrees higher, acorn squash are popping up in our local farmers' markets. Nevertheless, we picked one up and tried something new with the first of this years crop. Recognizing that the idea is probably not unique, and technically not a stuffing, this seemed like as good a thread as any to mention it. Acorn Squash Bowls!

              Basically, cut the squash in half, hollow out the seeds, and bake. When the flesh is tender, you have "bowls" for filling with whatever, I suppose. We filled them last night with a bean "chili," if you will. Basically, two cans of rinsed pinto beans simmered for around an hour with sauteed onion, garlic, jalepeno, dried New Mexico red chile, cumin, a bay leaf, a small piece of cinnamon stick, and a meaty beef rib bone.

              As you eat the contents of the "bowl," you sort of scrape the meat of the squash into each scoop. The sweetness of the flesh provides a nice balance to the heat of the chili. I can see no reason why it wouldn't work with any chili, or for that matter, bean recipe.

              2 Replies
              1. re: MGZ

                Fine idea! I looked at the acorns and buttercups at the FM this week but held off - I realized a couple of years ago that early-picked butternut squash don't seem to have as deep a flavor as those plucked later in the season, even when stored.

                1. re: greygarious

                  I'm not quite ready for fall squash either, not when there are still peaches and tomatoes and sweet corn. Fall will get here soon enough, and I'm happy to cling on to the last tastes of summer while I can.

              2. My mom used to stuff acorn squash with diced apples, walnuts, cinnamon, (maybe brown sugar? I remember it being sweet, but perhaps that was from the apples)...this may not be as savory as you're looking for but she would serve it as a meal, not a side.

                1. When I lived in El Paso, if I called ahead, my favorite Japanese restaurant would do a chawanmushi (Japanese custard with savory things like shrimp, chicken, and small vegies in it traditionally baked in a teacup) baked in an acorn squash instead of a teacup. Terrific! When I did them at home, I found it useful to cut off the blossom end of the squash, so it would sit upright, then cut off the top like a pumpkin, hollow it out, then set the squash on a cookie sheet and proceed with the standard chawanmushi, but place a flat casserole dish of water on the lower shelf in the oven when baking. Only problem is I can't remember whether I partially prebaked the squash before filling with custard or not. I tend to think I did, but who knows? There are lots of chawanmushi recipes on the web that will give you lots of good ideas for things to cook in the custard. Or just use your imagination with anything from foi gras to eel to all vegetarian. I can't remember if there is a traditional Japanese name for this dish or not, and Googling "Chawanmushi in acorn squash" brought up nothing useful. Anyway, something for you to think about.