Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Butternut Squash and Bacon Strata

In vain I have struggled.  It will not do.  My feelings will not be repressed.  I must tell you how ardently I admire and love my cleaning lady.  She has changed my life in a way not many people have.  When you're a working woman, especially one who has unpredictable hours, keeping up with cleaning can be a bit, er, difficult.  The older we get the cleaner people seem to want to keep their houses (or is that just me?), the bigger our living spaces seem to become, and the more responsibility we're getting at work.  Recipe for disaster.  Enter: cleaning lady.

Having a cleaning lady allows me to do things I enjoy that I probably wouldn't have time for, mainly cooking and blogging.  I'm sure I would get to cook some, but frankly, cooking some isn't enough for me.  Cooking and talking (/blogging) about food has become a real outlet for me that I have no intention of giving up.  The more I cook the more I want to cook.  The more I eat the more I want to eat.  But that's another issue.

Often, lately, I find myself making comfort foods.  Because life with a cleaning lady is rough.  This casserole fits the comfort food bill and happens to combine two of my favorite ingredients: butternut squash and bacon.  Mine didn't turn out spicy, so I might up the spice next time.  This recipe isn't exactly a looker, but it sure is delicious.  A creamy sauce binds the squash slices and a crisp breadcrumb topping makes it all the more incredible.  I'm on a casserole kick thanks to my new casserole pan and casserole cookbook, and I thank my cleaning lady for affording me the free time to develop such obsessions.  With or without a cleaning lady, this recipe is a must-make while butternut squash is still in season.

Butternut Squash and Bacon Strata
Adapted from Not Your Mother's Casseroles

4-6 slices bacon, diced
1 medium onion, diced
4-6 cloves garlic, minced
One 3-4 pound butternut squash
1/2 teaspoon chipotle chile powder, cayenne pepper, or smoked paprika
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 cup cream
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup grated Parmesan
1/2 cup dry bread crumbs
2 tablespoon olive oil
3 sprigs thyme (leaves only)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Grease baking dish with olive oil or butter.

Place bacon in large skillet and turn heat to low.  Slowly cook bacon for 10 minutes until crisp.  Add onion and cook over medium heat for another 10 minutes, until translucent.  Add garlic and cook for another 2 minutes.

Meanwhile, cut the butternut squash.  Cut the squash in half horizontally, separating the bulbous seed portion for the skinnier top.  Slice skin off of both portions and then cut in half.  Remove seeds from bulbous portion. Now that squash is cut into quarters and the skin is removed, slice into 1/4 inch slices (they will look like half moons or semi-circles).

In greased baking dish layer one layer of squash semicircles on the bottom, overlapping the layers slightly.

As garlic turns fragrant stir in chipotle powder, salt, and pepper.  Stir in cream and milk and bring to a simmer.  Remove pan from heat.

Using a slotted spoon remove half the onions and bacon, spreading them over the initial squash layer in the pan.  Sprinkle 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese on top of the onions.  Layer half of the remaining squash on top.  On top of this layer add the remaining bacon and onions and top with another 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese.  Place the last layer of squash on top and pour all the liquid from the pan over the squash.

In a small bowl mix the bread crumbs, olive oil, and thyme leaves together with a fork.  Sprinkle evenly over the casserole.  (You can cover the casserole and put it in the fridge for 24 hours at this point.)

Bake uncovered for 40-50 minutes until the squash is tender and the liquid is bubbling.  Let stand for 5 minutes before serving, if you can wait that long.


  1. this is definitely up my alley. looking forward to making it sometime!

  2. Wonder how many people get the quote?


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