Monday, October 19, 2009

Butternut Squash and Caramelized Onions over Polenta

It's been a while since I participated in the Leftover Queen's Royal Foodie Joust, but I'm back this month with an entry using each of the three chosen ingredients (orange colored squash/pumpkin; black tinted stout; sugar) and lots of Fall flair.

A heartwarming, soul-satisfying dish fit for Autumn is what I was going for here. So I took some flavorful butternut squash, soaked it in dark beer, coated it in brown sugar then browned it in some butter and roasted it with a bit of the beer til tender. Onions caramelized with the remaining beer joined the butternut squash atop a silky polenta.

Serve this as a side dish to grilled or roasted beef, veal or chicken; as a stand alone first course; or even a light main dish. I thought of adding some crispy bacon or pancetta but we'd had enough meat in our diet last week though either would add a great dimension of flavor to this dish though.

Now, if you're a food blogger and not yet a member of the Leftover Queen's Foodie Blogroll, head on over to Jenn's site and sign up now. You'll be part of a great community of bloggers, you'll enjoy some great contests and giveaways and you'll qualify to compete in the monthly Royal Foodie Joust.

Roasted Butternut Squash and Caramelized Onions over Polenta

1 small butternut squash, peeled and cut into large chunks
1/2 bottle dark beer
Pinch of cayenne pepper
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 to 3 tablespoons butter
2 medium onions, thinly sliced
Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste

For the Polenta:
2 cups chicken or vegetable stock
2 cups water
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup cornmeal for polenta
Dash of nutmeg
Pat of butter
1/4 cup grated parmesan

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Place the butternut squash in a large bowl; add the beer and cayenne pepper and give it a good stir until all the pieces of squash are coated well. Let the butternut squash soak in the beer mixture for about 15 minutes.

As the polenta cooks, heat 2 tablespoons butter in a large oven-proof skillet. Place the brown sugar in a bowl and once the butter is heated well, take the butternut squash cubes straight from the beer, coat each piece well with brown sugar and add to the hot skillet. Brown all the butternut squash pieces evenly on all sides then add half the beer marinade to the skillet and place it in the oven to roast the squash until tender.

Meanwhile, begin the polenta by bringing the water, stock and salt to boil in a large saucepan. Gradually whisk in the cornmeal and cook the polenta over moderately low heat (at barely a boil), stirring quite frequently until thick and smooth, about 30 to 40 minutes. Remove saucepan from heat and stir in the nutmeg, parmesan and butter. (Polenta will keep warm, covered, about 20 minutes. Stir well before serving.)

As the polenta cooks, in a skillet or saucepan, add the remaining 1 tablespoon butter and the sliced onions and cook 4 to 5 minutes until softened. Stir in the remaining beer and continue cooking the onions until golden and caramelized.

Spoon some polenta on the plate--or in a bowl--top with some caramelized onions and place a few pieces of butternut squash on top as well. Drizzle with any sauce from the roasted squash skillet and serve immediately.


Betty's Cuisine said...

ΩΩΩ! Τι όμορφο πιάτο! πολύ θα ήθελα να το δοκιμάσω! δεν ξέρω από γεύση, από εμφάνιση όμως σκίζει!!!

Peter G said...

Maria, you've really done fall justice with this dish...and I really like the fact that you used no meat! Good luck!

Ivy said...

Maria, very original dish and although I have never had anything like this before, it sounds delicious.

gastroanthropologist said...

I got a lot of roasted butternut in the fridge from the weekend and was just wondering how to make a second meal out of it. As a side with polenta sounds perfect!

Hopie said...

Wow that sounds like a mouth-watering combination! Great job bringing those autumn flavors together.

Núria said...

Beautiful way to use the ingredients!!! It looks great and soooooo Autumn :D.
Good luck to you dear!

Shopaholic said...

I have not cooked polenta myself because I did not like it but seeing your dish, I am tempted to give it another try : ) It sounds a Swiss dish to me : )
Janet @Gourmet Traveller88

Konstantina said...

I loooveee polenta!! And I always look for new ways to eat it and new combinations. This one is a must-try for sure!!

Anonymous said...

What a fabulous joust entry! Very creative use of ingredients, delicious!

JennDZ - The Leftover Queen said...

I bet the taste was amazing, Maria! I think you really married these ingredients perfectly! Nice to have you joining the Joust this month! :)