Chef Slade Grove shows us how to use butternut squash in a savory soup and a sweet dessert for Thanksgiving.
Butternut Squash Soup with Caramelized Bacon by Slade Grove
For the Soup
1 Large Organic Butternut Squash (about 3lbs)
2 Large Leeks
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
4 C Low Sodium Chicken Stock (or Vegetable)
2 C Half & Half (Heated) (omit and add 2 more veggie stock for vegan)
1 tbsp Fresh Grated Ginger
1/4 tsp Fresh Grated Nutmeg
1/4 tsp Cayenne Pepper
1 tsp Ground Cinnamon
1/4 C Dark Brown Sugar
2 tbsp Butter (omit for vegan)
Black Pepper (to taste)
Kosher Salt (to taste)
For the Caramelized Bacon
1 lb Thick Cut Bacon
1/2 cup Dark Brown Sugar
1/2 tsp Cayenne Pepper
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
Cut squash in half lengthwise, remove seeds, and place cut side down on baking dish; add 1/2 inch of water and bake until fork tender, about 40 minutes.
Meanwhile, trim leeks cut lengthwise and wash thoroughly to remove sand and dirt. Rough chop the white and light green part (toss out dark green parts).
In a large pot or Dutch oven, heat oil over medium low heat and sauté leeks stirring occasionally, then add in the spices (ginger, nutmeg, cayenne pepper, cinnamon) and brown sugar and toss with leeks. Scoop out squash flesh and add to pot then pour in stock, kosher salt and black pepper. Simmer 30 minutes.
Puree the soup using an immersion blender or in a regular blender (in batches). While soup is simmering, you can prepare the bacon.
To make the caramelized bacon, preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
In a heavy skillet, over medium heat, cook bacon until lightly browned, but not crisp; drain on paper toweling. Combine brown sugar and cayenne pepper.
Arrange bacon strips on a parchment or brown paper lined baking tray and coat with brown sugar mixture.
Bake until sugar is caramelized and bacon is crisp, about 5 minutes; transfer to brown paper to cool (will stick to paper towels).
Reheat soup and serve in shot glasses with 1/2 slice of bacon standing up in it - or serve in bowls as a soup course with crumbled bacon.
Butternut Squash Individual Cheesecakes
For The Cheesecake Filling:
8 oz Cream Cheese (room temp)
1 C Butternut Squash Pureed
1 tsp Vanilla Extract
1/2 C Dark Brown Sugar
1/2 tsp Ground Cinnamon
1/4 tsp Fresh Ground Ginger
1/4 tsp Ground Nutmeg
1/2 C Heavy Whipping Cream
For the Topping:
1/2 C Heavy Whipping Cream
4 oz Cream Cheese (room temp)
1/8 tsp Ground Cinnamon
1/4 C Powdered Sugar (sifted)
For the Crust:
8 Graham Crackers
2 tbsp Butter (melted)
1 tbsp Dark Brown Sugar
For the cheesecake filling:
In a medium bowl, mix together cream cheese and squash until well blended. Then add the vanilla, sugar, and spices and continue to mix until all incorporated. Place mixture in the fridge for about 15 minutes to set, while you finish the other tasks.
Place heavy cream in the bowl of a stand mixer with whisk attachment and whisk on medium speed until stiff peak. When set, gently fold it into the freshly whipped cream until fully incorporated. Keep in the fridge while you make the topping.
For the topping:
With an electric mixer on medium speed, whisk heavy cream until stiff peaks form (be careful not to over-beat, or cream will be grainy).
In another bowl, mix together cream cheese, cinnamon and powdered sugar until smooth. Gently fold whipped cream into cream cheese mixture until completely incorporated.
For the crust:
In a food processor, pulse the graham crackers, melted butter, and sugar together. Set aside. This will be the bottom of each individual cheesecake.
For the assembly:
Place about 3 tablespoons of graham cracker mixture at the bottom of four dessert containers. Next spoon about 1/4 cup cream cheese/squash mixture over the crust and spread evenly with the back of the spoon. Finally, pipe on the topping with your favorite piping tip. I used a Wilton star tip.
Finish off with some of the remaining graham cracker mixture and freshly grated nutmeg.