Tuesday, December 11, 2012

A Fabulous Holiday Side Dish...Butternut Squash Puree from Perry's Steakhouse & Grille

Michael and I attend two big family sit-down meals every holiday season: Thanksgiving and Christmas Day. My side of the family celebrates on Christmas Eve with a casual, fun party that's all about fun finger foods, appetizers, and sweets. Then, Michael and I always have a big Christmas lunch the next day at his parents' house before opening presents in the afternoon. I’m constantly looking for new dishes to share with everyone. Of course, some “tried and true” family favorites are a must every year to prevent a mutiny...but I’m a culinary rebel and like to shake things up a bit. Thanks to my friends at Perry’s Steakhouse & Grille, I’ve got a fabulous new side dish to contribute this year: Butternut Squash Puree. This item is available on Perry’s menu year-round, so I was  very excited when they sent me the recipe and asked me to try it out and share it with you!

This was my first time to cook butternut squash. I've always been intimidated by the idea of cutting a whole butternut squash up. However, our new Trader Joe’s sells bags of peeled pre-cut butternut squash, which made the prep work for this dish a snap! The flavor of this side dish is similar to sweet potatoes, and it’s bursting with flavor thanks to addition of butter, bacon, and maple syrup. How can that be anything but good?!?!? The only changes I made to the recipe they sent me were to half the recipe since I was cooking for just Michael and I. I also subbed panko bread crumbs for the Italian breadcrumbs the recipe calls for. I misread the recipe and bought panko, so I went that. It gave the final product a really nice crunch, which we loved.

Butternut Squash Puree
from Perry's Steakhouse & Grille
Step 1: Add 4 cups chicken stock to a large Dutch oven over med-high heat. Add 1.25 lbs. peeled and cubed butternut squash, one chopped garlic clove, and half of a thinly sliced yellow onion. Bring to a boil, then lower heat to med-low. Add 2 tbs. sugar and salt & pepper to taste. Cover and cook until the squash is tender – about 20 minutes. When the squash is cooked, drain it using a mesh strainer and transfer to a large mixing bowl. Save the cooking liquid in case you need it to thin the puree.
Step 2: Puree the squash-onion mixture using an immersion blender. Add 1/2 stick softened butter cut into pieces and incorporate using the immersion blender. Then, add two slices crumbled cooked bacon and ¼ cup maple syrup. Puree just until the maple syrup is incorporated. No worries -- the bacon will stay in bite-sized pieces! If the mixture seems thick, add a bit of the reserved cooking liquid to make it a smooth consistency. I added about ¼ cup of the cooking liquid, but your mileage may vary. Transfer the butternut puree to a  buttered oven-proof casserole dish.
Step 3: Combine 1 cup breadcrumbs, ¼ cup grated parmesan, and 2 tbs. olive oil in a small bowl. Stir to evenly coat the breadcrumbs with the oil. Sprinkle on top of the butternut puree. Place the casserole in the oven and turn on the broiler. Broil until the breadcrumb topping is golden-brown. Keep a close eye on the dish as it broils…it only takes a second for it to go from browned to burnt!
This butternut puree is absolutely fabulous: it’s sweet and full of buttery flavor…and the one-two punch of maple syrup and smoky bacon gives it an addictive background flavor. I paired this side dish with roasted pork tenderloin and a simple salad for dinner one evening last week. It was a big hit with us, and I can’t wait to share it with our extended family on Christmas Day. If you love sweet potato casserole, give this dish a try instead for a change of pace…I promise you won’t be disappointed!

For my Texas readers, Perry’s also wanted me to mention that they’re currently taking reservations for a special New Year’s Eve dinner. For $74.95 per person after 600 p.m., you’ll receive a three-course dinner menu of soup or salad, entree, and dessert. The menu features some of Perry's most popular signature menu items. Michael and I will be Perry's guests for a late dinner and a midnight celebration welcoming 2013 at the La Cantera location here in San Antonio. I’m so excited! We usually ring in the new year at home in our pajamas, so getting dressed up and enjoying a festive meal before counting down to midnight with a champagne toast at their adjoining Bar 79 will be so much fun! Rest assured…we’ll be taking our camera so I can share all the fun with you the next day!!

Founded in 1979, Perry’s is a Houston-based, family-owned business that operates Perry’s Steakhouse & Grille, with nine locations in Houston, Austin, Dallas and San Antonio. For more information, please visit PerrysSteakhouse.com.

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