Is it fall yet?!? Maybe it isn't technically (and the weather certainly doesn't feel like it), but you wouldn't know it from all the fall food favorites posts out there. Pumpkin or apple everything, right? I'm not immune – I love love love fall.It is my absolute favorite time to be in the kitchen. So sure, as soon as we pass Labor Day and the kids are back in school – pumpkin time is here. (And apples of course, but that's another post ;)
My favorite pumpkin dish to kick off the season is pumpkin butter. I make it every year and by far my favorite recipe is slightly adapted from Paul Virant's version that is all over the web. It's all over the web for a reason, it's that good. It's a spread, much like apple butter except that this recipe includes butter so the flavor is to die for and its consistency is creamy and oh so spreadable. I like to spread it on toast but one of my friends told me she could eat it with a spoon!
The recipe is pretty versatile, so don't let the pumpkin in the name get you down, any winter squash will do. Personally, I think a combination works best and after a bit of experimenting, I found my favorite combo to be sugar pumpkin, kabocha squash (or Japanese pumpkin) and a butternut squash. Kabocha tends to be in season earlier than sugar pumpkin and tastes similar to a pumpkin crossed with a sweet potato. It's green on the outside but bright orange on the inside. The combo of the three gives you that unmistakable fall feeling: warm with a touch of spice and very pumpkin. And since this pumpkin craze seems to start earlier every year - having kabocha in season earlier doesn't hurt.
The squash are roasted twice – once to soften them and then again with the rest of the ingredients to really deepen the flavor. It takes a bit of time, but most of it is waiting around. The result is so worth it. I usually package mine up for friends and family .Oh, of course I keep a hefty portion for myself. Maybe it's something to bring to Thanksgiving? It would have to be batch number two of course. (Yes, I am already thinking about Thanksgiving – it's the Super Bowl of food!).
Pumpkin butter keeps best in the fridge (or frozen - if you want to keep it around for a couple of months). One word of caution: there is too much moisture in this spread when made in a home kitchen to can it. It is not recommended and will go bad if you try to preserve it that way. I'm guessing that would probably make for a poor gift. I mean, unless you really had an axe to grind... - kidding! Seriously though, keep it in the fridge. It'll last a couple of weeks if you can stop yourself from gobbling it up right from the pan.
Pumpkin spread, perfect to spread on toast or scones or eating by itself! Made with pumpkin and other winter squash, spices and butter. Slightly adapted from Paul Virant's recipe.'
Pumpkin & squash (totaling about 5 pounds all toge
- 1 medium sugar pumpkin
- 1 medium kabocha pumpkin
- 1 medium butternut squash
- 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
- 6 cups (3 pounds) roasted pumpkin & squash meat
- 2 cups (12 ounces) lightly packed light brown sugar
- 8 tablespoons (4 ounces) unsalted butter, cut into pieces
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1. Preheat the oven to 400°F (on roast if your oven has that setting). Cut all the pumpkin (and squash) into halves or quarters and scoop out the seeds. Brush the cut sides with vegetable oil and place cut side down on a rimmed cookie sheet or roasting pan. Bake for 45 minutes to 1 hour, until the pumpkin is tender (a fork should easily pierce the flesh side). Allow the pumpkin to cool for 10 minutes or so until the pumpkin is easier to handle.
2. Reduce the oven to 350°F. Scrape out all of the flesh into a large bowl with a spoon. Discard the skins.
3. Add brown sugar, butter, and spices to the pumpkin flesh and mix together. I find using a potato masher makes quick work of this. Once everything is thoroughly mixed, spread the pumpkin mixture into a 9"x13" baking pan. Bake, stirring every 15 minutes with a spatula, until the pumpkin is slightly caramelized and thick, about 1 1/2 hours.
4. Pull the pumpkin out of the oven and give it a good stir. Pumpkins can differ wildly with finished texture, it should be creamy and spreadable, but if it isn't you can pulse it in a food processor or blender to get a smoother texture. If it is too thick for your taste, you can add a little water to smooth it out. (It's a little different every time).
5. Store in a covered container in the fridge or freezer. If giving as gifts store in small bell jars and keep in the fridge. Makes 6 cups.