I really need a butcher knife. Instead, I have a very old chef’s knife that has been sharpened to death and, although faithful, it is not a knife conducive to cutting hard and difficult foods like squash. I’m really glad Adam wasn’t around to witness me trying to hack acorn squashes in half. Not surprisingly, I managed to not mangle two halves of said squash. The other two halves, well, not very photogenic. Yes, I know. Someone who cooks as much as I do should have a good knife. A really good knife. Maybe even two. I guess I’ve just been waiting for the right one. It has to feel right, maybe even perfect, in my hand. Mind you, I think about knives all the time. I’ve had Wusthof’s in the back of my mind for months now, but still am not sure. I suppose I should buy one before I have no hands to cook with. It might be time to hit Sur la Tables knife sale.
However, I forgave my knife its incompetency (it’s not the knifes fault, after all) when I took my first bite of this dish. I’m really not a fan of internet acronyms, but OMG. It stopped me in my tracks. I found this recipe on Saveur who linked it from The Bitten Word who borrowed it from Martha Stewart. Taking their advice, I upped the amount of spices Martha used which metamorphosed this recipe from sort of a Moroccan dish to an intensely delicious Moroccan dish. This is the kind of meal you make when you plan on feeding friends. It is meant to be shared.
I changed a few items from the original recipe. Instead of golden raisins, which are hard to find not treated with sulfites, I used currants. I’m glad I did. The currants softly complemented the sweetness of the squash. I think the raisins may have offered too big of burst of sweet. I replaced the ground beef with bison because, well, I love bison. I also added shaved fennel mostly because it seemed like a nice touch.
This dish is definitely adaptable. As I was cooking it, my mind danced with the possibilities. Toasted walnuts, quinoa, chopped apricots, cilantro, wild rice. Let your imagination run and cooking intuition take over.
That’s what it’s all about anyway, right?
What you’ll need~
2 medium acorn squash halved and bottoms shaved so they can sit flat in your dish
3/4-pounds ground bison
1/4-1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon. Or to taste.
1/4-1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg. Or to taste.
2+ teaspoons coarse salt
4 cloves minced garlic
1/2 medium yellow onion, finely chopped
2 cups water
1/4 cups currants
1/4 chopped Italian parsley
2 tablespoons toasted pine nuts
Half of one fennel, shaved
Preheat oven to 400 and place squash cut side down in a large Pyrex or casserole dish. Bake for about 30-45 minutes, until tender.
While your squash is baking, warm oil over medium heat in a heavy 4-quart pot with a tight-fitting lid. Add ground bison, cinnamon, nutmeg and a teaspoon of salt. Cook, stirring frequently until bison is browned and cooked through. Keep in mind that bison is naturally very lean and over cooks easily. You only need to cook it for about 5 minutes.
Using a slotted spoon, transfer cooked bison to a bowl. Be sure to let the juices drip through the spoon and remain in your pot.
Add onion and cook until it begins to soften and become translucent. Add garlic and cook for about 30 seconds.
Stir in bulgur and remaining salt.
Add water and bring to a boil. Reduce to medium-low heat, and cover. Cook for about 15 minutes until the water is absorbed. Remove pot from stove and let sit covered for about 5 minutes.
Fluff bulgur with a fork and add bison, currants, parsley, shaved fennel and pine nuts.
Scrap out the cooked squash leaving about a 1/4 inch around the rims. Stir scraped out bits into the bulgur and spoon in to squash halves.
Bake for about 15 minutes, until tops are browned.
Serve warm and prepared to be wowed.