Thursday, November 24, 2011

Squash Casserole


I found myself in a panic this morning - Thanksgiving morning - when I couldn't locate the recipe for the squash casserole. It's a traditional dish that's been on our holiday tables for almost as long as I can remember.

The original recipe, as I recall, had come from Gwen Thomas, a dear family friend who I'd called "Aunt Gwen" ever since I started to talk. My mom used to make Aunt Gwen's squash casserole, but never told me what it was, fearing that if I knew there was squash in it, I probably wouldn't eat it. She was right. To me, it was just some yummy, cheesy thing we ate at Thanksgiving and Christmas.

After mom died, my sister-in-law Jan continued making the dish. And when I finally was out on my own, she passsed along the recipe to me. The first time I made it was probably for Thanksgiving in 1981. And the sheet of paper with the instructions I scribbled back then was the same tattered, taped and stained one I couldn't find this morning.

I searched in all the usual places, but then, after about an hour of futility and fuming, it struck me that I'd been making the damn dish for 30 years. It's not all that complicated and so I sat down and wrote down the ingredients and steps needed to make it. It all came back easily.

Ingredients:

6-8 yellow hook neck squash
1 medium onion
1/2 lb of grated cheddar cheese
cracker crumbs
1 cup milk
2 eggs
4 pats butter
2 Tbl sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
1/4 tsp black pepper
1/4 tsp white pepper
1/4 tsp paprika


Peel the squash, cut off ends, cut into quarters, then into one-inch bits.
Peel and chop the onion.
Add the squash, onions and 1/4 cup of water to a pot. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, cover and simmer for one hour.

While the squash and onions simmer, mix a cup and a half of milk, 2 lightly beaten eggs, the salt, peppers and paprika. Set aside.

Pre-heat oven to 350.

When the squash and onion mix is ready, drain, add 2 Tbl sugar and mash.
Line the bottom of a casserole dish with 4 pats of butter.
Add a layer of the squash and onion mix, then a layer of cracker crumbs, a layer of cheese then a layer of the milk mix. Repeat adding the layers, finishing off the top with the milk mix.

Cook uncovered in the oven for 60-75 minutes, or until the cheese is melted to a golden brown on top.

Enjoy!

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