Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Autumn vegetable and chicken curry stew, served in kabocha squash bowls

Here's a fine fusion dish for a cold autumn day. Find small, round, blemish-free kabocha squash, one per person. Carve off the tops as if you were carving jack-o-lanterns, and remove and discard the seeds. Save the tops (if they are particularly thick, cut off a bit of the flesh for cooking into the stew; sprinkle the inside flesh of the tops with a little apple cider vinegar if you're worried about letting them sit out for a while). Rub some salt into the flesh inside the squashes, wrap the outsides of the squashes with foil, and back upwards of an hour in a medium-temperature oven. You want the flesh to be tender, but the sides to retain their integrity, so check regularly with a fork.

Meanwhile, prepare the stew. Begin by sauteing onions in olive oil with some salt, a bit of ground allspice, and plenty of curry powder. Then add a few sour green apples, chopped up, and some peppers, and any other fall veggies you might happen to have (e.g. the extra squash from the top of the jack-o-lanterns). After sauteing a bit, add some vegetable or chicken stock, or, better, some blended squash soup (we found some in the freezer). (If you have lots of extra winter squash, you can make this soup before making the stew: onions, squash, broth, a little salt, cooked until tender and then pureed.) Bring the stew to a boil, and then stir in some pieces of chicken, to poach. Once the chicken has cooked, taste the stew and adjust the seasoning.

When the flesh of the kabochas is starting to get tender, remove the "bowls" from the oven and fill with the stew while still very hot. The heat from the stew will help cook the insides of the squash even more. Replace the tops and serve.

The point is to eat the soup, and also eat the bowls mixed into the soup from the inside out. We had been intending this for our Hallowe'en dinner, but ended up pushing it to All Saints' Day instead. This stew can go with almost any wine, depending on how cold it is outside.

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