Butternut Squash, Prosciutto, Toasted Butter Crumbs

It really is a challenge executing a “cheffy” dish with several components that I’ve developed. It’s especially tricky when I usually have one shot at it because, well, it is dinner and I do not normally get to try, re-try and refine before I have a final plated dish. Truth of the matter is that no matter how good I THINK something might taste and look, sometimes it just does not work out at all or works half-way. This dish is a good example of the latter. Most of the flavors and textures worked very well, but it did not look as good or as refined as I had imagined and sketched.

The least successful part of the dish was probably the cured butternut squash. I had seen a preparation like this first on the Ideas in Food blog and it stuck with me. A chunk of winter squash (they used Fairytale squash) is cured as if it was a piece of meat and then thinly sliced. I cured mine with a combination of smoked paprika, sage, sugar salt and pepper. I packed it all together in a FoodSaver bag and let it sit in the fridge for 48 hours. To serve it, I just sliced it as thinly as possible. The taste and texture of the raw squash was just odd, like a weird pickle. Now, it is possible that if I had a proper chamber vacuum machine (to fully push the seasoning into the squash and compress it) and a real meat slicer (to shave it very thinly) that this component would’ve worked.

The central part of this dish were the ravioli and these worked very well. The filling is a basic combination of roasted butternut squash, parmesan ans a dew seasonings like balsamic vinegar and nutmeg. The dough is also a classic recipe that uses nothing more than egg and flour.

The seared butternut squash pieces were first cooked sous vide. So, I bagged them with butter and a little salt and cooked them at 85 C until they were perfectly tender. Right before plating I seared them in a very hot pan to add some nice flavor and texture variation.

For the dehydrated prosciutto, I rolled several slices together into a cylinder shape and froze it. When fully solid I used my Microplane grater to make fine shreds of delicious frozen ham. Lastly I spread them on a pan and allowed them to dry in a very low oven. The almost-fully dry ham shreds now have a very concentrated prosciutto flavor and work great as a topping or base for all kinds of dishes.

Sage is a classic with pumpkin ravioli, so I made sage cream to go with this dish. It’s pretty much the recipe from The French Laundry’s agnolotti dish that I made here. The last garnish is more of those toasted butter solids that I talked about in the end of this post. They work exceptionally well here echoing the traditional brown butter that pumpkin filled pasta is usually tossed in.

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2 thoughts on “Butternut Squash, Prosciutto, Toasted Butter Crumbs”

  1. For the squash, why not just use a sharp simple vegetable peeler? I’ve been using it for everything lately, and just using it to shave off long thin stripes of carrots resulted in one of the best carrot salads of my life.

    1. Oh, I certainly tried a vegetable peeler first. The problem is that the “cured” butternut squash i not rigid like a carrot anymore. It turns a bit flexible and the peeler just did not produce good results with that.

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