Squash + Jimmy Nardello Coconut Curry - Whole Squash Cookery - Part 2
For this squash curry we use the squash as the cooking vessel as well as main ingredient. The result is beautiful way to impart deep nuanced flavor while reducing dishes and complexity. You can make this recipe with any squash that has a large inner cavity (rule of thumb - if it can stand upright it will likely work), and for smaller squash this becomes a great way to setup individual squash bowls. If you don't have a squash with a larger inner cavity, roast the squash separately and finish everything together in a pot.
1 Large Squash (Queensland Blue, Carnival) or 2-3 Smalls Squash (Koginut, Butternut, Acorn)
1 Sweet Onion (Chopped)
3 Cloves Garlic (Peeled + Crushed)
3 Sweet Peppers (Chopped) (Jimmy Nardello, Cubanelle, Escamillo, Etc)
2 Tablespoons Honey
1 Lime (Halved)
1 Meyer Lemon (Halved)
1 Pinch Controne Pepper
Salt + Pepper
1/4 Teaspoon Turmeric Powder
1/4 Teaspoon Cured Sumac
2 Bay Leaves
1 Can Coconut Milk (Unsweetened)
3 Tablespoons EVOO
2 tablespoons red curry paste
Preheat oven to 450. To start, we must prep the squash, start by cutting off the top just a below the lowest point of any of the topmost ridges (we want a lid, but the majority of the squash should be a bowl). Remove the pulp and seeds from the bottom of the squash, and set aside for making crispy squash seeds. Using a paring knife, cut away at the inside of the squash to make the wall no more than an inch thick, scoring with the knife and then hacking and prying away with a spoon works well. Be careful with this step as the firmer your squash flesh the harder it will be and you risk breaking your vessel, do you best, it doesn't have to be perfect we just want to make the squash cook faster and more evenly. Once your squash bowl is prepped, drizzle half of the honey and evoo inside and spread onto the entire interior with your hands, next, season with salt and pepper. Now add all the squash bits you chopped out of the bowl plus onion, peppers, bay leaves and your halved lime and meyer lemon. Season with salt and pepper and place the top on the squash fitting it so that is nice and snug. Place the whole thing on a foil/parchment lined baking sheet and put in the oven. We will cook in the oven for 40 minutes to an hour, we want the top to be nicely browned and the skin to have started to puff away from the flesh.
While the squash cooks, take a small saucepan and add the other half of your evoo over medium heat. Add your garlic, turmeric and sumac, stirring to ensure the garlic only browns and doesn't burn. Once the garlic is nicely brown, deglaze with your coconut milk. At this point we add the rest of the honey and the curry paste stirring to incorporate. Reduce heat to low and stir to keep from burning, we want to caramelize some of the sugars in the coconut. Cook over low heat for 15 minutes then turn off the heat.
At this point you should be ready to test your squash. Pull the squash from the over and with tongs gently remove the squash top, the onions should be fully transparent, with a fork stab the largest chunk of squash in the bowl to see if it is fully cooked, if so you are ready to move on, if not replace the lid on the squash bowl and put back in the oven (if the squash is getting alot of color at this point, you can cover with foil to ensure it doesn't burn). Cook for another 15 minutes and then re test.
Once the interior squash is fully cooked, remove the squash from the oven and again gently remove the lid with tongs. Remove the lemon and lime halves from the bowl. Sprinkle your controne pepper over the remaining mixture and then pour in your coconut broth, if it has been been long enough for the coconut to cool, reheat prior to removing your squash from the oven. Turn the oven up to 500 degrees and replace the lid on your squash bowl. Put the whole mixture back in the oven and cook for another 15 minutes.
Once the whole squash has finished, pull from the oven and very gently place in a large bowl to serve, or if it seems unsteady, leave in the baking sheet. Season with a touch of salt and pepper and garnish with your crispy squash seeds, you can serve as is or wait a day or two. If you plan to wait, which will only improve the flavor(these things always taste better the next day) skip the squash bowl presentation and instead, pour all the interior ingredients into a bowl then stir them vigorously to make a thick consistency(not pureed just combined and mixed). Next use a spoon to scoop chunks of your squash into this bowl hollowing out the lid and bowl(depending on the variety of squash / your proclivity for squash skin you can just cut these up and include the skin.)
When ready to eat, heat and enjoy!