Man, o man do I love butternut squash, acorn squash, spaghetti squash, delicata squash... you get the point. When I was young, one of my>"/>
Man, o man do I love butternut squash, acorn squash, spaghetti squash, delicata squash... you get the point. When I was young, one of my favorite side dishes at family dinners was an acorn squash, halved, filled with butter and brown sugar, and roasted until soft and sweet. It tasted like candy, but technically qualified as a vegetable - a loophole that I still enjoy exploiting.
During my recent, steamy love affair with my pressure cooker, I've discovered that it does fantastic things to squash. For example, last week, Jethro served THE BEST butternut squash soup I've ever eaten - pressure cooked, of course. There are two fundamental benefits to pressure cooking, as opposed to roasting, squash:
One of the best tricks I've learned from Modernist Cuisine is that adding .5% baking soda (by weight) to things you're about to pressure cook results in fantastic caramelization. The baking soda increases the pH of the food, which allows the Maillard reaction to take place at the the relatively low-temperature environment of the pressure cooker - typical Maillard reactions start around 310F, but a pressure cooker operating at 15 psi only reaches about 250F. That means that you get deliciously-sweet, browned squash without running the risk of accidentally scorching your squash.
Also, pressure cookers brown more evenly than ovens. Think of your oven like a cheap tanning bed, with lights above and below the subject (in this case, food). The top and bottom of the food is exposed to a lot of light and gets nicely tanned. The sides, however, remain pasty-white because they're mostly in shadow. The environment inside a pressure cooker, however, is more akin to bathing in a pool of self-tanner. The heat and pressure generated by the steam come from all sides, and as a result, your cubes of squash are beautifully browned from every angle, not just the top and bottom.
If you're ready to drink the Kool-Aid, here are some pressure cooked squash recipes to get you started.
Go wild with variations. Add other stuff like apples or canned pumpkin or bell peppers or carrots or leeks. I promise it'll be good.
[BTW, the picture above is an acorn squash, uncooked.]