1 large (2 1/2 to 3 pound) butternut squash, quartered and seeded
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, diced
4 ounces cubed pancetta
2 medium yellow onions, peeled and diced
5 stalks celery, chopped
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons herbs de Provence
1/2 cup chicken or vegetable stock
2 tablespoons (28 g) packed light brown sugar
4 extra-large eggs (240 g) at room temperature, beaten
2 to 3 ounces Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese (optional)
Roast the Butternut Squash. I recommend roasting the squash ahead of time while you are busy doing something else at home. Then, allow it to cool, cover it and refrigerate until ready to use. To roast the squash, turn on your oven to 400°F. Line a rimmed baking sheet with unbleached parchment paper and place the quartered butternut squash on the baking sheet, cut sides down. Place in the center of the preheated oven and bake until the flesh is fork tender (about 1 hour). Remove from the oven and allow to sit at room temperature to cool. Grease two 8-inch or 9-inch square baking dishes and set them aside. Reduce the oven temperature to 225°F.
Brown the butter. Place the diced butter in a small, heavy-bottom saucepan. Cook over medium-high heat until the butter is melted. Continue to cook the butter, stirring constantly, until an amber color develops just around the edges of the pan. First, the butter will bubble, then the bubbles will become larger and more clear, and finally the amber color will begin to appear. Remove from the heat immediately and continue to stir until the color deepens. If the color doesn’t deepen enough, return to the heat and cook a few moments longer. Set the butter aside to cool.
Dry the bread. Dry the bread. Scatter the cubes of bread in a single layer on a large rimmed baking sheet. Place in the center of the preheated oven for about 10 minutes, or until the bread is dried and just beginning to crisp. Remove the pan from the oven and set it aside for the bread to cool. Raise the oven temperature to 350°F.
Cook the pancetta and vegetables. In a medium-sized skillet, cook the pancetta over medium-high heat until it is uniformly browned and the fat is rendered from it. Remove the cooked pancetta from the skillet and set aside. Add the onions and celery, and the salt, pepper and herbs, and cook over medium-high heat, stirring frequently, until the onion is translucent and the celery has begun to soften (about 7 minutes). Remove the pan from the heat and add back in the cooked pancetta.
Puree the squash. Once the butternut squash is cool enough to handle, peel away the skin (or scoop the flesh from the skin), and place the flesh in a food processor fitted with the steel blade. Add the stock and the brown sugar, and pulse until smooth.
Assemble the stuffing. Place the eggs and the cooled brown butter in a large bowl, and beat to combine. Add the cubes of bread, then the onions, celery and pancetta, and toss to coat. Scrape in the butternut squash puree, and mix to combine. Divide the stuffing evenly between the prepared baking dishes, and spread into an even layer in each dish. If using, shave or crumble the Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese and divide among both dishes, scattering on top of the stuffing.
Bake the stuffing. Place the baking dishes side by side in the center of the preheated oven and bake, swapping the places of each dish and rotating both dishes once during baking, until the stuffing is set (25-30 minutes). Serve warm.
Happy Thanksgiving, once more, my friends! Who loves you?
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