I’m one lucky gal—part of my job as a writer for StarChefs.com has me tasting with chefs all over the country, and for the past few weeks I’ve been in San Francisco. I’ve had a number of fabulous delicata dishes, making it one of my favorite gourds lately. The crispy skin and creamy texture of the winter squash offers the perfect contrast all in one vegetable. And it’s super easy to cook at home; just coat it in a little butter and brown sugar, and it roasts into a delicious side dish.
This dish is inspired by Chef Marty Cattaneo, who recently prepared a similar, stunning composition at his Los Gatos outpost Dio Deka. Cattaneo infuses the rich, smoky flavor of bacon into a consommé, which he pours over perfectly cooked abalone and scallops. For texture, he adds a mixture of soft and crunchy quinoa. It is a divine dish, one I still can’t get out of my head, weeks after I originally tasted it. In my version, I’ve swapped in delicata for the abalone, toasted the seeds to provide crunch, and put together a simplified bacon jus. It’s a warm, comforting fall dish, a perfect way to enjoy the autumn flavors and relax after a long week. It would also make a wonderful addition to the Thanksgiving table, if you’re already starting to put together your November menu.
Brown Sugar Roasted Delicata, Buckwheat, and Bacon Jus
Servings: 4 portions
1 tablespoon vegetable oil, plus extra
1 onion, diced
12 ounces apple wood-smoked bacon, diced
1 medium-sized delicata squash
2 tablespoons butter, room temperature
½ cup brown sugar
1 cup dried buckwheat groats
For the bacon jus: Heat a pot over medium-low heat. Add the oil and onion and cook until the onions begin to turn translucent. Add the bacon and continue to cook until the bacon becomes aromatic and the fat renders. Cover the bacon and onion with water, cover the pan, and simmer for two hours. Pour the mixture through a cheesecloth-lined strainer, reserving the liquid. Freeze overnight.
For the delicata squash: Preheat the oven to 450°F. Cut the squash in half, remove the seeds, and reserve. Cut one half of the squash in half again, and then quarter. Cut the other half into thin strips. Place the squash on a lined sheet tray and rub the butter onto the squash. Sprinkle the brown sugar over the squash and season with salt and pepper. Roast for 20 to 25 minutes, removing the thin slices after they are crispy and golden. Continue roasting for an additional 10 to 15 minutes until the larger pieces are fork tender. While the squash is roasting, clean the seeds of any fibers, and season with salt, pepper, and additional olive oil. Place seeds on the sheet tray during the last five minutes of the roasting period, and cook until the seeds are golden and crispy.
For the buckwheat: In a small sauce pot, combine the buckwheat groats with 2 cups water. Season with salt. Bring to a boil, cover, and reduce to a simmer. Cook for 10 to 12 minutes, until the water has reduced and the buckwheat groats are tender.
To serve: Remove the bacon jus from the freezer and use a sharp knife to cut the white fat layer off. Discard. Place the remaining brown layer into a small saucepan and cook over medium until jus is melted and warm. Lightly season arugula with olive oil, salt and pepper. Plate the buckwheat, delicata squash pieces and slices, and squash seeds. Garnish with the arugula salad and bacon jus.