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.