Friday, November 20, 2009

Red Curry Butternut Squash – When it Comes to Side Dishes, the Food Gods Hate a Coward

As you decide on what to include in your fabulous array of vegetable side dishes for the upcoming holiday feasts, keep one thing in mind. No guts, no glory. For some reason, normally adventurous cooks when faced with a house full of hungry relatives, play scared.

It's probably driven by the desire to want everyone to enjoy everything (you know that's impossible, right?). Serving something too exotic just doesn't seem prudent. I take a different approach. Since these holiday meals are one of the rare times we get to serve multiple side dishes, I think it's the perfect occasion for springing a surprise or two.


This lovely red curry butternut squash certainly fits the bill. Sweet, spicy, and mysterious – this turkey-friendly side dish won't be everyone's cup of tea, but for those at the table that let it work its magic, it promises to be one of their favorite parts of the meal.

Like I said, there are plenty of other side dishes on hand, so even if the worse case scenario happens and everyone from little Billy to Grandma Jean agrees this is the worst squash dish ever, so what? There are seven more sides to pick up the slack. Besides, after the third bottle of Beaujolais Nouveau who's really going to care?

If you've never worked with red curry before, be careful. It's really spicy, and you can always add more as it cooks. To be safe, you can even cut my measurements in half for the spices and then adjust. I hope you give this interesting butternut squash side dish a try. Enjoy!



Ingredients:
3-4 pounds butternut squash, peeled cut in 1-inch cubes
1 bunch green onions
1 tsp cumin
1 tbsp red curry powder (I used McCormick)
1 tsp red curry paste (I used Taste of Thai)
2 tbsps tomato paste
1 can coconut milk
1 rounded tbsp brown sugar
3 tbsp fish sauce (or sub to-taste with soy sauce or salt)
1 tbsp vegetable oil
3 cloves garlic
1/4 cup torn fresh basil leaves
*adjust for salt and heat before serving

25 comments:

PukaDog said...

If I made that adventurish dish for Thanksgiving, I'd probably call it "Spiced Squash" and leave out the words, "red curry" as I know that would deter most (but not all) in my family from giving it the ol' try it to see if I don't like it taste test.

Chris K. said...

That looks awesome! And I'm not a sweet potato fan.

I think for a lot of people, it's not "playing scared" but rather "keeping it traditional." My brother, for example, wants everything to taste just like Mom used to make at Thanksgiving.

Which is nice I guess, but kind of boring. It precludes the opportunity to create new food memories.

And Mom, by the way, doesn't cook for Thanksgiving anymore. And not because she's dead. She's just sick of the hassle.

Bill W, NH said...

Is the basil Thai or Italian? I'll probably make this dish for Thanksgiving.

Birder said...

This is brilliant! I'm always extra keen on curry dishes that don't involve meat. I look forward to trying this this winter (after I acquire some good curry paste). Thanks, Chef!

Basia said...

I gotta try this! That sounds sooo good!

My favourite tool for peeling butternut squash is a cheese blade. Not the wire; the blade. Works like a charm, but wear an oyster glove if you have one!

Chef John said...

it was italian, but thai is even better

Lucia said...

I wonder if regular pumpkin works, I bought one and I have tons left, and I adore thai red curry.

Chef John said...

would be great I think

Denise said...

Love this dish.. So unique and fresh! Keep it up Chef John!

Adrian said...

I didn't have coconut milk, so I used regular milk. I'm pretty sure the flavor wasn't quite the same, but it was pretty good!

The only problem was that I didn't have a Dutch oven (I have to buy one of those) so I got a bit of stickiness at the bottom, even on low heat.

Anonymous said...

If I used potatoes and chicken instead, can I follow the same time line, roughly? I figure the potatoes would take about 20 minutes but not sure about the chicken. Maybe 10 minutes if diced the same size. I don't know. What would you advise?

2 russets
1/2 pound of diced chicken.

What do ya think boss?

Chef John said...

sounds about right

Jessica said...

I've made about a dozen of your recipes since I was referred to your blog last month and they've all been out of this world delicious. I had an early Thanksgiving dinner with friends this weekend and I trust you so implicitly that when I saw this post I changed up my menu at the last minute to include this dish without even a test run! I didn't regret it. It was a smash hit. I also made your perfect mashed potatoes, cabernet cranberry sauce, and gougères. It was a very Chef John Thanksgiving. Thanks for doing what you do!

Jennie said...

This was fantastic! While looking for a squash curry to rival a once in a lifetime meal at a Laotian restaurant in Madison, Wisconsin, I stumbled onto this recipe. I hit the jackpot! The flavor is so complex, and your video presentation is so entertaining. We're hooked!

Victoria said...

Do you think I could substitute yellow curry powder for red? I'm having a dinner party with some other recent college grad friends of mine, and we've only got that and are trying to save some money. Thoughts?

Victoria said...

Can I substitute yellow curry power and paste for red? Thanks!

Chef John said...

im not a fan of yellow, but you sure can!

Jason said...

Through in some sweet potatoes and a can of chick peas (drained and rinsed) - turned this side dish into an entrée!

Kudos, Chef John!

Dr. Jay

ChanimalCrackers said...

Can I just use a bit more tomato paste/red curry powder if I can't find the paste?

Chef John said...

maybe more powder, but be careful with more tomato!

laurenlila said...

This was so good! We decided to make it a main dish, though, so we added some chickpeas and served with rice. Loved it!

Anonymous said...

Hi Chef John,
I know that is kind of late, but I want to thank you for helping me to make perfect Thanksgiving dinner. I made almost everything from you.From Appetizer to dessert :-) And my guests were simply amazed how delicious it was. So thanks again, your big fan Pavla from Czech Republic

Anonymous said...

made this for Christmas dinner tonight. Even Aunt Linda went in for seconds! Had to play it low key and just call it 'spiced butternut squash' so I didn't scare them away before they tried it :) great recipe and great blog!

lisa0116 said...

I made this last week and it is fantastic!! It is so good that I am making it again right now. I served it with brown rice and chicken. Thank you Chef John!!!

frenchise said...

We (me + flatmates) had this dish tonight with fried egg and it really pleased our asian-food-loving tastebuds! Thanks a lot for this great idea :)