Monday, November 12, 2012

Recipe: Butternut Squash Egg Rolls

Fall is in the air and with it the smell of burning leaves, apple cider and pumpkin spice everything!

In an attempt to bring Fall to my kitchen and capture the classic flavor of the season, I decided to attempt making miniature pumpkin pies.  After contemplating the time involved with carving and baking a huge pumpkin and realizing I only needed to feed myself and a few co-workers, not an army, I opted for the shortcut version.  Butternut squash in old school Micky Dee's styled pies...

They were a big hit at work, but could have gone off better had I figured out a way to keep the shells crisp and crunchy during the 45 minute transport.  (Why does I-66 always have traffic?)  This isn't the quickest thing to make, but since it can be broken down into two easy stages, it is easy to throw together with a little preparation.

What you'll need:
1.) 1 Medium Butternut Squash
2.) 1/4 Cup of Maple Syrup (Please don't use the fake stuff!)
3.) 1/4 Cup of Softened Butter
4.) 2 Teaspoons of Vanilla Extract
5.) 2 Tablespoons of Cinnamon
6.) 2 Dashes of Nutmeg
7.) 15-20 Egg Roll Wraps (Depends on how full you stuff them.)
8.) 1 Cup of Vegetable Oil

Kitchen Tools:
1.) Either a Large Cookie Sheet OR Metal/Glass Baking Dish covered in Aluminum Foil
2.) Large Spoons
3.) A Large Bowl
4.) A Small Dipping Bowl Full of Cold Water
5.) A Wok OR a 3" Deep Fry Pan
6.) Metal Kitchen Tongs - Use carefully if you have Teflon coated pans.
7.) Cookie Cooling Rack OR Layers of Paper Towels on a Plate

Instructions - Part 1:
1.) Cut the Butternut Squash in half and spoon out the guts and seeds.  Leave the skin on and place each half on the cookie sheet or in the metal/glass baking dish "bowl" side up/skin-side down.
2.) With your fingers spread a thin layer of the butter all around the top and inside of the squash.  Basically, any part facing you should be covered in butter.
3.) Pour the Maple Syrup and Vanilla into each half of the "bowl" of the squash.
4.) Sprinkle the top and inside of the squash with 1/2 tablespoon of Cinnamon and 1 dash of nutmeg per half.  Reserve the 2nd tablespoon of Cinnamon for Part 2 of the recipe.
5.) Carefully, so as not to spill the syrup and vanilla, cover the squash with aluminum foil.  This will prevent the tops from burning.
5.) Bake at 350 degrees for 1-1.5 hours, or when the squash is fork tender all the way through.  Test with a fork throughout each piece to be sure.
6.) Allow the squash to cool for 30 minutes.  Spoon/scoop the squash from the skin into a large bowl.  If necessary, pour out the syrup into the bowl before scooping.
7.) Sprinkle 1 tablespoon of Cinnamon into the squash and mix well with a fork.  Mixing while hot/warm prevents the squash from being stringy when you put it into the egg roll.
8.) *Optional* Cover the bowl and place the squash in the fridge for future use.

Instructions - Part 2:
1.) Place the egg roll wrappers on a plate and place the bowls of squash and cold water nearby for easy access.
2.) Heat oil in a large wok or deep fry pan on high.  (Later, you'll need to turn it down to medium high.)  Do not test with water like you do with pancakes, unless you're prepared to maneuver quickly.  It's no bueno to have hot oil splurted in your face!
3.) Scoop two spoonfuls of the squash in the the center of the egg roll wrapper.
4.) Lift and fold the opposite side corners of the wrapper together - say East and West.  Then, fold the bottom corner up - say South - and carefully roll the egg roll up to the top corner - North.
5.) In order to seal the top corner of the wrap, wet the "North" corner with a bit of water from your fingers and gently smooth the corner into the body of the egg roll to create a firm seal.  You do NOT want ANY part of the squash to be seen or have air pockets.  If this does happen, something will burn or it can possibly explode on you if your heat gets too hot.
6.) Gently, carefully and quickly (it's easier than I'm making it sound) tip the egg roll into the oil.  Let it stay on one side for a minute before checking it.  Once it is golden brown, turn it onto the other side.  If you notice it is getting too brown, too quick turn down the heat to medium.  If you are cooking more than one egg roll in the oil at a time then a higher heat will be necessary.
7.) Place the cooked egg roll on the cookie rack or paper towels and allow to drain.  Cool for 5-8 minutes before eating.

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