Most winter squash look more like instruments of self-defense than like something to eat. But winter squash is not only delicious, it's also easy to cook. One of the easiest methods is also among the best-tasting.
There are two ways to get squash pulp. You can pierce the skin of the squash all over with a sharp carving fork then bake it at 400 degrees until the squash is soft, 50 to 60 minutes. Or you can cut the squash in half, place it, cut side down, on a jelly roll pan or in a roasting pan, then add about a quarter-inch of water before baking at 400 degrees until soft, 30 to 40 minutes. The second method cooks the squash faster and more evenly; the first method may give the squash a more concentrated flavor.
Once the squash is softened, spoon the pulp away from the skin. This pulp can be used for all sorts of recipes, including this one, which many on the staff like almost as much as mashed potatoes.
2 tablespoons minced shallots 1/4 cup butter 3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar 2 cups roast squash pulp 1 teaspoon salt Freshly grated nutmeg
Cook shallots in medium saucepan with 1 tablespoon butter over medium heat until soft, about 3 to 5 minutes. Add vinegar, increase heat to high and cook until vinegar is reduced to syrup, another 3 to 5 minutes. Add squash pulp and salt and stir to combine. Reduce heat to low and cook until heated through, about 5 minutes. Cut remaining butter into small cubes, add to squash and beat until fairly smooth. Serve immediately, dusted with freshly grated nutmeg.
Makes 4 servings.