Kambucha Squash Linguine

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Last night I had one of my best friends over for a working dinner. She is strictly on a fins and feathers diet, aka Polo-Pescetarian or something like that? I wanted to make something simple, tasty and beautiful. I saw a recipe in a food magazine ages ago for a winter squash linguine. I took the idea and ran with it.

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Starting with the squash puree, I used Kabocha squash. This squash is a delight if you have never tried it, you should! It’s more earthy and robust than your run of the mill butternut. Kabocha’s are a little harder to break down than a butternut, but well worth it. The outer skin is very dense and took some serious knife hacking to remove it. Once the skin is removed the deep golden yellow flesh is really beautiful. Next cut the squash in half, scoop out the seeds and then your left with just the awesome flesh. Speaking of the seeds, you can clean them up toss with a little olive oil, salt and pepper, and bake at 350F for 20-25 minutes, great little snack for later. I then sautéed 2 onions, a small handful of garlic and a little oil in a large deep skillet and for 5 minutes. While that sautéed I cut the squash up into 2” cubes and added them to the pan and stirred them up. To that I added 3 cups of chicken stock, a pinch of salt and pepper, and a few sprigs of sage. Bring that all to a boil then reduce the heat to low and let it go for 30 mins, or until the squash is tender.

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While the squash is simmering away I got the rest of my mise en place together. I wanted to make this dish super tasty so I figured a few crispy fried shallots and some roast chicken would be delightful.

For the shallots, get a deep heavy bottom pot on the stove and fill it with a few inches with canola oil and heat it on medium-high. Peel the shallots and slice them into rings. Toss the rings with a few splashes of buttermilk and allow them to mingle for a few minutes. I used one bone-in chicken breast for this recipe; you can use really any meat you like. Roast the chicken at 425F for 25-30 minutes. Now drain the rings and toss them with seasoned flour. Test your oil by adding one onion ring; if it floats and sizzles the oil is ready, if it sinks to the bottom its not. Add a few small handfuls of the rings to the oil. Don’t over crowd the oil or your rings will come out soggy and gross. Fry them for 2-4 minutes then remove them to a paper towel lined tray. Make sure while they are still hot to sprinkle salt on them; this goes a loooong way!! Once you have fried all the onions your good to fry the sage leaves. If you have never fried herbs before, be carful! The moisture in the herbs will make the oil splatter and make a bunch of noise, this it totally normal. Add the leaves to the oil and let them make their noise. Once the noise stops all the water is gone, I wait about another 30 seconds after sizzling and popping noise stops then remove them to a paper-lined tray as well. Don’t salt the herbs.

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By now your squash puree should be ready. Add it to a blender and wiz it up. Make sure when you are blending hot things to remove the center cap on your blender and cover with a tea towel so the steam can escape. Blend the squash until its super smooth and silky, about 3-5 minutes.

By now the chicken should be ready to come out. Carefully remove the skin from the breast and return the skin to the pan and put it back into the oven for another 3-4 minutes to crisp it up. Once it’s crisp, allow it to cool and slice it up. Chicken CRACK-ling, its so effing good!!! It gives an awesome chicken flavor to anything you put it on. I use it as a garnish.

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Time to cook the pasta. I used fettuccini. Cook roughly 100g per person. Grip your noodles above a pot of boiling water, giving the noodles a twist then drop them into water which will allow them to cook evenly and not stick together. Remove the noodles to a large skillet and pour the squash puree in. Toss the noodles and squash adding a few cups of pasta water. The pasta water is gold because it helps sauces thicken, moisten and creates a glossy sheen.

Take a large BBQ fork and make a large twirl of noodles, place it in a bowl. Using the BBQ fork is a trick to get a really nice spiral of noodles in a bowl. It looks really fancy and makes you look like you know what your doing. Scatter the fried onions, sage, and nice chunks of chicken all around the plate. Give a solid glug of really good olive oil; sprinkle the chicken crackling and a few shavings of Parmesan cheese.

BOOM!! Dinners ready.

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I served this to us and I was even surprised how tasty this dish is! Once we ate we got right into our meeting to design our graphics for our catering van oooolaaaalaaaaa.

Recipe:

yield; dinner for 4-6

Sauce

1 x 2lb Kabucha Squash

2 onions – small dice

4-6 garlic cloves – minced

3 cups chicken stock

10-20 Sage leaves – stems removed and saved

6 shallots – peeled and sliced into rings

4 tbs AP flour

4 tbs buttermilk

1 liter canola oil – for frying

1 x 1lb bone-in skin on chicken breast

Parmesan cheese – curls

1 x 500g-linguine pasta

Salt and pepper
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