Jean-Georges Vongerichten’s Inventive Take on Butternut Squash

A drizzle of balsamic vinegar makes magic in this butternut squash dish.

Cutting up a hard winter squash like butternut can be a rather cumbersome chore.

But leave it to esteemed New York Chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten to devise a dish that does away with that unwieldy step.

Vongerichten’s “Butternut Squash with Balsamic and Chile Panko Crumbs” is made by cooking a whole butternut squash in a big pot of boiling water until tender, about 45 minutes.

In this recipe from his newest cookbook, “Home Cooking with Jean-Georges” (Clarkson Potter), of which I recently received a review copy, he jokes that he came up with this surefire method one night when he was cooking at home, but wanted to watch a movie with his kids uninterrupted.

After all, Vongerichten’s flagship Jean Georges restaurant may be only one of six in the country to garner three Michelin stars, but this is also a chef who likes to cook and entertain at home. The book includes 100 recipes of family favorites that he likes to make at his country home in Waccabuc, New York. Think everything from “Portobello Parmesan Sandwiches with Rosemary Mayonnaise” to “Pork Chops with Cherry Mustard” to “Apricot Frangipane Tart.”

His take on butternut squash is perfect for the Thanksgiving table. After draining the squash and allowing it to cool enough to be handled, you mash the flesh, then drizzle on balsamic vinegar and olive oil. Next, you top the mash with the seeds of the squash that you’ve sauteed until golden brown, as well as a shower of crisp panko bread crumbs, crushed chile flakes, thyme leaves and grated Parmigiano-Reggiano.

A super easy way to cook butternut squash without having to cut it up first.

The balsamic vinegar really makes this dish. It heightens the sweetness of the squash, but also gives it much more depth with its slight wine-y tang. In fact, from now on, I might just add a drizzle to butternut squash soup to make it even more interesting.

Butternut Squash with Balsamic and Chile Panko Crumbs

(Serves 8 )

1 large butternut squash (about 2 1/2 pounds)

2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

5 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

1 cup panko crumbs

1 1/2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves

1/2 teaspoon crushed red chile flakes

1/4 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Regginao cheese

Bring a large stockpot of water to a boil. Add whole squash and cook, partially covered, until tender, about 45 minutes. (A knife will pierce the flesh very easily.) Drain, cool slightly, then remove and discard the stem and peel. Reserve seeds, removing and discarding the strings.

Transfer flesh to a large serving dish and mash with a fork into an even layer. Drizzle the vinegar and 2 tablespoons of oil over the squash, and season with salt and pepper.

Heat 3 tablespoons of the squash seeds in a large skillet over medium-low heat until dry. Add 1 tablespoon of the oil and a pinch of salt and toast, tossing occasionally. When the seeds begin to pop, partially cover the pan. Continue toasting until golden brown, about 3 minutes, then transfer to a plate.

In the same skillet, heat remaining 2 tablespoons oil over medium heat, then toss in crumbs. When well coated, stir in thyme, chile, and 1/4 teaspoon salt. Toast, tossing occasionally, until golden brown and fragrant, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in cheese, and toasted seeds. Spread the crumb mixture over the squash in an even layer and serve immediately.

From “Home Cooking with Jean-Georges” by Jean Georges Vongerichten with Genevieve Ko

More Recipes for Your Thanksgiving Table: My Take on My Mom’s Sticky Rice

And: See’s Scotch Kiss Sweet Potatoes

And: Maple-Mustard and Tahini Glazed Carrots

And: Green Bean Salad with Pickled Shallots

And: Ad Hoc’s Leek Bread Pudding

And: Kokkari’s Sweet Green Peas and Feta

And: Bradley Ogden’s Overnight Soft Herb Rolls

And: Honey-Glazed Spago Corn Bread

Plus: After-Thanksgiving Chinese Rice Porridge

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Date: Monday, 21. November 2011 5:25
Trackback: Trackback-URL Category: Chefs, Cool Cooking Techniques, General, Recipes (Savory)

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  1. 1

    A marvelous dish! Balsamic vinegar and squash go so well together.



  2. 2

    Perfect! I have a butternut squash and all the other ingredients – I will make this today! I recently started using my jack o lantern carver to cut up butternut squash, my own little tip. :-)

  3. 3

    I’ve been seeing so many inventive butternut squash dishes. Love the fall season!

  4. 4

    Wow, this is a great idea for cooking butternut squash. It is definitely easier to cook the squash first, and then to peel it and mash it. Balsamic vinegar and Panko sound like great additions.

  5. 5

    Oh yes, it’s a chore to cut up the hard squashes.

    This way of cooking butternut squash is really interesting….

  6. 6

    I have always dislike cutting up butternut pumpkin coz even though my knives are very sharp I’m always apprehensive and cautious to not injure myself. This is a great recipe to bypass that process and would definitely consider this the next time.

  7. 7

    I like panko breadcrumbs a lot & to use them in this tasty & lovely butternut squash recipe is realy good! Yummy looking too! :)

    TYhanks for introducing me to this chef! I have never heard from him before! ;)

  8. 8

    I love this method of cooking the whole butternut squash! I will have to try this asap. The recipe looks delicious, thank you for sharing!

  9. 9

    I’ve never tried cooking balsamic vinegar and squash together. Sounds like delicious combination!

  10. 10

    I was dubious about this cookbook but it is officially on my MAJOR WANT list.

  11. 11

    What a beautiful dish…this is a cookbook that I would really love to have! Love the simplicity, yet complex flavors here…wonderful!

  12. 12

    I made this tonight and it was outstanding! Thanks so much for sharing it, Carolyn – I’ll definitely be making it again.

  13. 13

    Wow…a very special dish. I love pumpkin. Maybe can do this to pumpkin. It must be yummy. :)

  14. 14

    […] Another Recipe From that Book: Butternut Squash with Balsamic and Chile Panko Crumbs […]

  15. 15

    Grabbed a butternut squash tonight on the way home from work and soon had it boiling away. It was SO much easier to process with this technique. Thank you, Carolyn!

  16. 16

    Sara: Glad you liked the technique as much as I do! I’m definitely making this again this autumn. ;)

  17. 17

    […] Another Squash Recipe to Try: Butternut Squash with Balsamic and Chile Panko Crumbs by Jean Georges Vongerichten […]

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