Just three harmonious ingredients and a little technique make this deceptively simple side seem extra sophisticated. Chestnuts enhance the nutty flavor of red kuri squash and toasty browned butter adds notes of burnt marshmallow to the lusciously smooth purée. A perfect pairing for holiday roasts.
This was actually my first time cooking with red kuri squash. I’ve known about it for a few years, but have always gotten distracted by other winter squash varieties to try. I didn’t know what to do with it until I roasted it and tasted the squash on its own. Oh my goodness… Sweet and nutty with a creamy texture, I almost ate it plain for dessert. That said, if you can’t find red kuri squash, I would use half of a kabocha and half of a butternut to substitute.
Browned butter sounds fancy, but it’s actually very simple and should be a part of everyone’s culinary repertoire. Just melt butter (high quality, pastured butter) in a saucepan over a medium/low flame and just keep going until it turns caramel in color and fragrance. Next, be ready to remove promptly from the heat so it doesn’t burn!
In this recipe, the warm butter poured over the chestnuts will help them to break down for puréeing. Which, speaking of, I prefer to use a Vitamix for, as nothing compares to the smoothing capabilities of a good high speed blender. It takes a little coaxing with the tamper and perhaps a hit of water, but I think it’s worth the effort. Otherwise, a food processor will do just fine.
Red Kuri and Chestnut Purée with Browned Butter
Serves 6-8 as a side dish
1 medium red kuri squash, halved and deseeded (be sure to get all the stringy bits out)
3 ounces roasted and peeled chestnuts (about 1 cup)
4 tablespoons butter (preferably pastured)
3/4 teaspoon salt, plus more to taste
Preheat oven to 350ºF. Place squash halves on a parchment lined baking sheet, cut sides down. Bake until a fork can pierce the skin without much resistance, about 50 minutes.
Once the squash is cool enough to handle, scrape flesh from skin into a bowl (if you get some skin in there, don’t worry too much. It’s generally edible.)
Place chestnuts in a Vitamix or food processor and set aside. Melt butter in a small saucepan over medium/low heat and simmer until it begins to brown and release toasty caramel aroma. Immediately remove from heat and pour into blender or food processor with the chestnuts. Pulse to break down the chestnuts. Add cooked red kuri flesh and salt. Process (be sure to have that tamper handy if using a Vitamix) until very smooth. Feel free to add a bit of warm water to aid in this process. Adjust for salt and serve immediately or at room temperature.