Baked Squash Stuffed with Spicy Sausage & Vegetables

stuffedbakedsquash

A far less delicate stuffing today. After my acorn squash with maple syrup disaster dinner last week, I knew I hadn’t finished with the squash family. I don’t know what this squash is called, actually, but it cost about £2 in Waitrose. When it came to the stuffing, I didn’t know if I wanted gingery, zingy and green or creamy, soft and meaty. When in doubt, I say, choose cream. So this is a slightly more complex take on my spicy sausage pasta from the other week. It has onion, celery and garlic as a base though, to give it some depth, and mushrooms, courgettes and pine nuts to give it some body. There is no pasta in it, I figure the squash will do pasta’s job. I used a pork and apple sausage which suited this dish really nicely. Serves 2 very hungry people, completely by itself.

  • 1 winter squash, acorn, butternut or whatever looks good
  • 1 packet good quality sausages
  • olive oil
  • 100g mushrooms, sliced
  • 100g courgette, sliced
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • 1 stick celery, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
  • 100g pinenuts
  • 1 tsp chilli flakes
  • 1 glass dry white wine
  • 150ml double cream
  • Handful of basil and flatleaf parsley, finely chopped, roughly equal quantities.

stuffedbakedsquashwhole

Preheat your oven to gas 6. Firstly, cut your squash in half. As you can probably see from the pics, mine was a rather squashed squash, so I had the remarkably clever idea of cutting horizontally rather than vertically through the squash. Now honestly, this did aid me in persuading the squash to lie still in the pan, put it was hard work. The squash was fairly hard, and it was too much to cut through in one slice, like it would have been if I cut the other way. So if you decide to do this, you’ll need a short, very sharp knife and a steady hand. Anyway, I think I did an ok job. Remove the seeds and stringy stuff from the inside of the squash and put the halves in a shallow roasting tin, cover with foil and cook for 30-45 minutes until almost soft right through.

stuffedbakedsquashunfilled

In the meantime, put a couple of tablespoons of oil in a large frying pan and add the celery, garlic and onion and salt and pepper. Cook over a low heat until they are softened and golden. In another pan, without oil this time, place it over a low heat and crumble the sausages into it, breaking up any big lumps with a wooden spoon. When it is browned, turn off the heat. In the celery and onion mixture, add your mushrooms and courgettes and turn the heat up slightly. Stirring, fry these until softened, and add your sausage. Stir again, add your glass of wine and simmer for a few minutes. Add the cream, chilli and mustard and cook down until the sauce has cooked down – a matter of minutes or so. Remove from the heat, and stir in the herbs and pinenuts. Check the seasoning. Divide the sausage mixture into the squash cavities and return to the oven.

stuffedbakedsquashuncooked

Cook for a further 30 minutes until the squash is cooked through completely and the whole dish is slightly browned on top. Scoff.

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Chicken Stew with Herb Dumplings

Autumnal Mood Food.

Would serve 4 with additional starch, or 2-3 greedies as it is.

  • 8 chicken pieces, such as drumsticks and thighs, free range as a minimum please
  • olive oil
  • 1 onion, sliced
  • 2 cloves of garlic, chopped
  • 2 sprigs of rosemary
  • large handful of mushrooms, sliced
  • 3 carrots, cut into batons
  • big handful of new potatoes
  • 1 litre hot chicken stock
  • large glass of wine
  • tbsp of cornflour, mixed with water
  • salt & pepper

for the dumplings

  • 50g suet
  • 100g self raising flour
  • lots of salt & pepper
  • 4 springs of thyme, leaves removed and chopped finely
  • water

In a very large saucepan, or a casserole that you can put on the hob, put in the garlic, onion and rosemary, salt & pepper, and a splosh of olive oil. Cook over a low heat until the onions are soft. Add the rest of the vegetables and stir everything round until thoroughly mixed together. Meanwhile, get a large frying pan hot and odd some more olive oil. Add the chicken in batches, and brown all over. Add the browned chicken into the vegetables and stir again, carefully this time. Pour in your glass of wine and turn the heat up, should take a few minutes to bring the wine to the boil. Then add the stock, and then add the cornflour and give it a final stir. When the casserole has come up to the boil, turn the heat right down to minimum and forget about it for a couple of hours.

If you return to it and find the sauce is not as thick as you’d like, preheat the oven to minimum gas mark and put the chicken pieces and vegetables into a metal roasting tin using a slotted spoon. Cover with foil and pop into the oven.Then, as you’re making your dumplings, turn the heat up and bring to a fast boil to reduce the sauce down a bit.If you’re happy with the consistency of your sauce however, just get on with the dumplings.

Combine all the dry ingredients in a bowl. Add 4 tablespoons of water and mix, first with a fork and then with your hands. The mixture should still be too dry. Add another tablespoon or so if this is the case, but slowly, until the dough is right consistency. Bring together into a ball with your hands and on a clean surface, divide with a knife into 8. Handle as little as possible but shape each piece into a roundish ball. Place on top of the casserole, which should be on a simmer now and then put the lid on. Cook for 20 minutes et voila. If you have put the chicken in the oven, get it out now, serve on a plate and spoon over the sauce and some dumplings.