Chef Chris Cosentino of Incanto restaurant in San Francisco may be known for his offal-good cooking, but there’s little organ meat to be found in his new cookbook, “Chris Cosentino’s Beginnings: My Way to Start a Meal.”
Sure, you’ll find a little bit of tripe, bone marrow and chicken liver, but there’s much more in this book (Olive Press) by Cosentino, of which I received a review copy.
Some of the recipes may have you hunting down specialty purveyors such as for the boar shoulder in “Pickled Boar, Herb Pesto, Grilled Onions & Pine Nuts” or bumming some leaves off your vintner neighbor for “Pan-Roasted Grapes, Turnips & Grape Leaves.”
But most will have you marveling at how just a few key ingredients can elevate a dish to new heights.
You’ve probably roasted acorn squash before. But have you ever served it with stracciatella, dreamy strands of fresh mozzarella soaked in heavy cream?
Trust me, if you have, you’d remember.
“Acorn Squash, Stracciatella & Sage” is that type of dish.
Cut an acorn squash in half. To make the task easier, I microwave the whole thing for a minute or so, until a chef’s knife can pierce the hard skin fairly easily.
Roast the acorn squash halves with a little water, butter and bay leaves until tender. Then cut the squash halves in half again, and brown them in a saute pan with butter, a splash of sherry vinegar and fresh sage leaves that crisp up.
Immediately, top each quarter with some of the soft, fresh stracciatella. If you can’t find that specialty cheese, which can be difficult to obtain, Cosentino suggests burrata instead, which is similar in that it’s a ball of mozzarella stuffed with stracciatella. Trader Joe’s carries a good quality burrata that’s packed in water.
After topping the squash with the cheese, pour over the residual pan drippings and sage leaves.
The heat will cause the cheese to melt a bit, resulting in this almost pudding-like, rich filling in the cavity of the tender squash. Dig in. It’s creamy for sure, but also sweet and wonderfully nutty.
Squash has never tasted so luxurious.
Acorn Squash, Stracciatella & Sage
1 acorn squash
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
1 bunch fresh sage
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided use
2 bay leaves
2 tablespoons sherry vinegar
1/4 pound stracciatella or burrata cheese
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Cut squash in half lengthwise and scoop out the seeds. Season cut sides of the squash with salt and pepper. Pick the leaves from the sage sprigs and reserve. In a roasting pan just large enough to accommodate the squash halves, combine sage stems, 1 cup water, 2 tablespoons of the butter, and the bay laves, spreading the herbs evenly over the bottom of the pan. Place the squash halves, skin side down, in the pan.
Roast the squash until tender when pierced with a knife, about 1 1/4 hours. Transfer squash halves to a cutting board and cut each half in half lengthwise.
In a saute pan over high heat, melt remaining 2 tablespoons butter. Add squash pieces, cut side down, and sear until nicely browned, basting the whole time with the butter. Turn and sear the second cut sides until browned, continuing to baste. Add the sage leaves, turn the heat down to medium, and then pour in the vinegar and deglaze the pan, stirring to dislodge any browned bits from the pan bottom.
Transfer the squash pieces to a warmed platter. Top each piece with one-fourth of the cheese and then drench with butter and sage leaves. Serve right away.
Adapted from “Chris Cosentino Beginnings: My Way to Start a Meal” by Chris Cosentino