Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Two Girls, One Ingredient: Butternut Squash

Dear Anyone Born After 1993,

As a child of the 80's, having a pen pal was a basic rite of passage, like learning to swim or the first time you hear a swear word. You see, people born after 1993, once upon a time, there were no computers, no smart phones, and certainly no internet, let alone lolcats! A time when we actually learned how to write in cursive. The horror!! So, what did we do in such uncivilized times to keep ourselves busy, besides hunting buffalo and squirrels (and yes, that is a reference to Oregon Trail)? Well, our parents set us up with a pen pal--basically a perfect stranger from the opposite side of the world, with whom we could trade HAND written notes about school, home, and other boring crap that kids want to talk about. Sometimes there were even real live pictures sent too! Sure, it tapered off after about 4 or 5 letters, but it was always exhilarating to get a piece of mail with your name inscribed on it while it lasted.

Sadly, pen pals died out when Facebook and the social media outlet du jour came to dominate any chance at human interaction we otherwise might have had. At least, that's what I thought until I was introduced to Jenna at the Paleo Project. Wouldn't ya know, it was a Facebook friend of mine that first introduced me to the Paleo Project earlier this year, and I've been girl crushing ever since. It started with a bit of mutual comment posting on each other's blogs, and over time morphed into guest blog posts, Facebook friending, and even texting!! Yes, little, tiny people born sometime after the year 1993, it's a modern-day version of a pen pal!

Jenna and I discovered we shared a love of several things, including but not limited to creating innovative and delicious paleo eats, blogging, and staring at pictures of ourselves. Which is why, dear dear little people born post-1993, we've decided it best to combine our forces and delve head first into a new joint-venture: Two Faced! The concept is simple--each week, we take one ingredient and each put our own spin on it. That's it. Start here, end there. Or vice versa. Whatever, it doesn't matter. All that really matters are people sharing common human experiences, isn't that right, people barely able to vote? 

So with that, I implore you to unlock the chains of modern technological advancement, take your thumb directly out of your ass, and join the HUMAN experience. Unless of course, you're online reading this blog and that blog. The human experience can wait another 15 minutes. Trust.


For this edition of Two Faced, we're tackling the very versatile butternut squash. I stumbled across this recipe for butternut squash fries, and unlike one of my favorite recipes for sweet potato fries, this one promised crispy "fries." I played detective to find out if it's true.
Firstly, you need a butternut squash--duh! You're only using the top, straight section here, so the taller it is, the better. Having recently become the proud owner of a mandolin slicer, I used mine to cut the squash into fries. They came out a bit thin, but hell, it was less work for me!
So, the crispy fry thing. Let's talk about this. Like sweet potatoes, squash has a high water content, making it difficult to roast in an oven without become soft/mushy/soggy/insert-undesirable-fry-texture-word-of-choice-here. The cure? Sweat 'em. Like you would sweat an onion in a saute pan. In case you're a total trainwreck in the kitchen, what that means is lay the fries on a pan covered with paper towels and generously sprinkle kosher salt all over them to draw the moisture from the fries. Eventually, they're gonna look like they're sweating worse than a whore in church.

The recipe I used suggested letting them sweat for about 30 minutes, but honestly, there was still a good amount of moisture left in mine. I could totally see doing this for several hours, or even overnight, but I was short on time, so I didn't do that. 
Once they've sweated, you then need to thoroughly pat them dry. I worked in small batches and used countless paper towels. Again, I wonder if sweating them longer would help.

The next trick to getting a crispy fry, supposedly, is not to roast the fries, but to broil them. The recipe strictly says to use a scant amount of oil (coconut or olive), but frankly, I would recommend skipping it altogether. Even though I only drizzled a bit onto the pan directly to prevent sticking, many of my fries still came out soft. Next time, I'm going to pass on the oil altogether and broil the fries on parchment paper.

Now, all that aside, these did turn out really tasty, and some were even near crispy! I thought about making a sage aioli to go with them, but after trying them with ketchup, there was no need. Served this way, they actually DO taste like real french fries. You can see the full version of the recipe here.


Unknown said...

Thank gawd for the new feature! Also I had a pen pal that lived in maine haha

Jenna, The Paleo Project said...

I love how this post just crushes people post 93 "people barely old enough to vote"... I might actually start writing you hand written letters in my best cursive. Your nails look great, those fries look amazing.

Meg O. said...

What a cool idea! I loved both posts!

Ally said...

Ahh sweet potato fries are one of my favourites ever!! Everytime I make them they rarely come out crispy too..maybe I'll try out these butternut squash ones. Thx for the tips!

xx, Ally


The Urban Poser said...

Thanks for the review. It's nice to read how a recipe comes across to others. Especially the instructions. I stopped using oil on mine too, finding the came out better, so I was glad that you noticed that too. Love the pics...and your blog is GREAT!

Anonymous said...

This is SUCH a good idea! I really want to do this with one of my favorite blogger friends. Hmm...thinking, thinking! :)

Lyly said...

Those look so good and healthy!

Take a look at my new site if you like :)


Jamie said...

Love this idea! I also CrossFit and attempt to eat paleo the best I can. Thanks for the great recipes!

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