First, I want you to know that I, Kelly Yandell…food blogger…am not cooking on Thanksgiving. Not one little morsel. I am going to my momma’s and we are heading over to the nearest restaurant that is sporting a buffet. The reservation is made. What turkey consumption that will occur before and after that meal will be on a Greenberg Smoked Turkey. If you haven’t had one, and Oprah and the New York Times have not sufficiently convinced you, let me throw my hat in the ring. It is a bird beyond compare and it arrives on your doorstep like a gift…ready to go.
I love Thanksgiving immensely. I love everything about it. And I especially love the food. But folks, mom needs a year off. And I’m taking it. Not a whole year…I mean…just Thanksgiving Day.
However, since I visited the Grand Prairie Farmers Market last week I have been thinking about, and eating, a dish that is perfect for Thanksgiving. It is especially nice if you like simple things that don’t require a lot of fuss. This recipe was given to me by Mykell, a sweet lady who works for Round Rock Honey. I bought a little bottle of honey last week, not because I was running short on honey…not by a long shot…but because Mykell told me it had been harvested from the hive a mere 3 days prior to the market. I had a hard time resisting that notion. So I bought the honey and she gave me a recipe and based on that recipe I turned around to the nice man from Vann Farms and I bought a butternut squash. I made the dish…and then I bought another squash a day later and I made it again. It is that tasty. And it has all my favorites…butter, honey, pecans, and cinnamon. I modified the recipe a little. Namely, I peeled the squash first and I roasted it at a higher temperature.
Peeling a butternut squash prior to cooking it is one of those tasks that is likely to send you to the emergency room on Thanksgiving Day, and you are likely to dull your favorite peeler. Be warned…but I still like peeling it first because I think the result is pretty and I don’t like handling nuclear hot food too much. But you have to cut this beast with your biggest and sharpest knife. I recommend cutting off the bottom and the top first so that it will stand up nicely. Then peel it from the top to the bottom. If you can’t get a good working hold on it you can do what I did, which is put a dish towel on your belly and hold the monster against yourself and peel toward yourself. I’m sure there are people who would think this both unsafe and silly…but it worked for me…so there.
1 large butternut squash, peeled, halved across the short way, and then halved the long way, and sliced into ½ inch slices
½ cup unsalted butter, melted
¼ cup honey (or more)
½ cup pecans, chopped (or more)
¼ teaspoon cinnamon
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Peel, de-seed, and slice the squash. Pour half of the melted butter in the bottom of a 9” x 13” pan. Put the slices of squash in the pan making sure all of them get buttery on all sides and then arrange them nicely in the pan. Place the pan in the oven and roast the squash for 45 minutes or until a fork pierces the squash without much resistance.
Meanwhile, chop the pecans, and mix ¼ to a 1/3 cup of honey into the remaining melted butter. When the squash is just tender, remove the pan from the oven and pour the honey and butter mixture on top of the squash. Use a spoon to baste the mixture onto any squash that didn’t get touched. Then, sprinkle the cinnamon on top and sprinkle the pecans on top. Return the dish to the oven for an additional 10 minutes. Remove the dish from the oven, and again, spoon honey butter from the edges all over the top so it is all wet with honey butter. Serve.
Only you know how squishy you like your squash. Use your judgment to determine whether or not the squash is soft enough before proceeding with the honey butter and pecans. I like it a tiny bit firm once it is done, not totally mushy, but that is a personal matter. Do what seems right to you.
On this Thanksgiving, I will be giving thanks for the servers, and the cooks and the dishwashers. I will be thankful that on this day, someone else is putting a beautiful, hot, difficult meal in front of me. Someone will be bringing me glass after glass of iced tea. Someone will clear the table without me asking. And someone, undoubtedly with an aching back after a very long day, will wash and put away the dishes. These someones will do this while they are NOT with their families, and while they are being paid little. I am thankful, this year and all years, for those who work on the holidays so that the rest of us can have nice ones.
I will also look back and be thankful for both of my grandmothers who, let’s be honest, busted their rears to put giant spreads in front of giant groups, and never got enough credit…at least not from me, for what a challenge it actually is to accomplish that. I will forever carry shame for making fun of my Grandma Katie’s green jell-o salad. And while I’ll still give my Grandmother Alma a hard time, posthumously, for serving frozen pizza for Thanksgiving one year, I now understand why that seemed like a great idea.
And dear readers, especially those of you who make it to the end of my long winded posts, this year I am thankful for YOU.