If any of you have been following my blog for a year, and merci for that, you might remember when I made something called cranberry aigre doux. I made three jars of these cranberries essentially cooked in wine and vinegar. The recipe came from a very interesting book on canning called the Preservation Kitchen, by Paul Virant.
In a follow-up post, I strained the cranberries from the liquid, reduced the liquid, and then poured everything over a room temperature block of cream cheese. My daughter claimed it tasted like Christmas! It was indeed good, and I’d also made the blueberry version of his in the summer before I started blogging so it’s not documented; it was equally delicious.
These posts no longer exist because I need to re-do them.
But I became even more intrigued with whatever Mr. Virant means by his terminology of aigre doux when I saw his recipe for butternut squash aigre doux. Okay, now I get it for cranberries and blueberries. But now for a winter squash? A vegetable? Of course, I had to make it. So here it is.
Butternut Squash Aigre Doux
1 good-sized butternut squash
1 large white onion, peeled
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cups sherry
1 cup maple syrup
I used this sherry. It wasn’t good for drinking because I prefer sweeter sherry.
Have all of your canning supplies available and ready to go. I used one large jar that held the whole butternut squash, but you can use smaller jars, of course. make sure everything is sterilized.
Peel the squash, cut off the ends, and then slice it once lengthwise. Remove the seeds. Then cut each half lengthwise again.
Slice 1/4″ slices crosswise and place in a large Dutch oven. Slice the onion crosswise into thin slices and add to the squash in the pot, and add the salt.
Then pour on the sherry and maple syrup.
Bring the liquid to a boil, then cover the pot and reduce the heat. Simmer the squash for about 30 minutes, stirring it around one time during the cooking process. You want it tender, but not mush. Let everything cool with the lid off.
Using a slotted spoon, place the squash and onions in your sterilized jar.
Add the sherry vinegar to the remaining liquid in the pot. Cook the liquid gently for about 10 minutes. I actually placed all the liquid in a different pan that had a pourable side.
Using a funnel with a strainer at the bottom, pour in the liquid until it comes no more than 1″ from the base of the lid. Cover the lid, but not too tightly.
Process the jar or jars, under 1″ of water, at the correct temperature according to the thermostat on your canning pot, for 10 minutes. Remove the jar from the water, and let it cool.
Store it as you would any thing that you’ve canned before, preferably a cool, dark place like a cellar or basement.
So then, what in the world to do with this butternut squash? Well, for me, the answer was simple. A salad! But a hearty salad. I’ve been making lots of bean and lentil salads lately, being that it’s winter time, so I reached for orzo instead.
I put together a salad of spinach, purple cabbage, tomatoes, purple onion, orzo, butternut squash aigre-doux style, and some toasted pine nuts. Of course, I added a little salt and pepper.
And the dressing? Simply some delicious balsamic vinegar and olive oil – both of which my daughters had bought me as Christmas presents! The vinegar matched beautifully with the somewhat maple syrup-sweetened butternut squash. I wish I could have shared.
verdict: I’ll probably not make this again. But that’s not to say it isn’t good, because it is. Mostly, the butternut squash slices taste like they were infused with maple syrup, although, fortunately, they’re not too sweet. Honestly, it was a waste of a lot of good sherry, maple syrup, and sherry vinegar. And some time that I’ll never get back. But if you’re feeling adventurous, go for it!