Baked Acorn & Butternut Squash with Almost-Curried Chicken
My recipe doesnâ€™t call for curry powder â€“ but it does use most of its component spices. The reason I use both butternut & acorn squash is that the former adds color to the curry, and the latter, when halved, makes an ideal receptacle for baking the chicken. Incidentally, if you prefer to prepare this dish in stages, the chicken curry can be made and the squash baked in advance.
4 Tbsp clarified unsalted butter
4 large skinless, boneless chicken breast halves, cut into 1Â½-by-1/4 inch strips
1 large Spanish onion, coarsely chopped
1 small red bell pepper, cut into narrow strips
1 large garlic clove, crushed
Â½ tsp turmeric
Â¼ tsp EACH ground cinnamon, ground cardamom, ground cumin, ground coriander and hot red-pepper flakes
4 fl. oz. chicken stock
Â½ cup unfiltered apple juice
1 Tbsp tomato paste
3 acorn squash (about Â¼ lb. each)
1 butternut squash (about 1 lb.)
4 fl. oz. heavy cream
Â½ tsp salt & freshly ground black pepper
Heat oven to 350Â°. In large heavy skillet, heat a Tbsp of clarified butter; add chicken; stirfry over fairly high heat until golden brown; remove to a bowl and reserve.
Add another Tbsp of butter to skillet and reduce heat to medium flame. Add onion, red bell pepper and garlic; stir-fry until the onion is softened & translucent. Blend in spices & hot pepper flakes; cook, stirring, over medium heat until fragrant. Stir in stock, apple juice & tomato paste. Return chicken to the skillet and adjust heat so that the liquid barely simmers. Cover & cook for 40 minutes.
Meanwhile, place the squashes (which have been punctured all over) in a baking dish and bake for 20 minutes. Turn & cook for 20 to 25 minutes longer, or until they feel fairly soft to the touch. Remove from oven; let stand until cool enough to handle.
Halve butternut squash; scoop out seeds & membrane; peel & cut flesh flesh into Â¾-inch cubes. Add butternut squash & cream to curried chicken. Season with salt & pepper.
Halve acorn squash; scoop out seeds & stringy portions; brush cut surfaces with remaining butter. Place acorn squash, cut-sides up, in large shallow baking pan. Mound the hollows with curried chicken. Cover loosely with foil and bake for 25-30 minutes, or until squash is tender.
"Where love has entered as the seasoning of food, I believe that it will please anyone." ~ Plautus: Casina