Monday, September 26, 2011

Butternut Squash Fries

I confess...I am a HUGE french fries fanatic, but then again 'fanatic' is kinda of my M.O. Ahhhh, but 'french fries' with their wonderfully crisp, salty outside and soft delicate inside! Problem is, when your diet calls for low starch vegetables only, a good 'fry' can be hard to find. Here is a great alternative, and fast becoming my favorite snack... 

BUTTERNUT SQUASH FRIES! Tasting a bit like sweet potato fries, they are full of flavor and if made with care, you can avoid a limp soggy, wet, 'squashy' fry.

There are many ways to make butternut squash fries. The easiest is to just cut up the squash (to look like fries of course) and then roast them at 350-400 degrees for about 15-25 min(depending on the size of your fries) turn a few times during cooking and they'll  taste great!

I however, like my fries a certain way...being a fanatic and all. So I set out to make my  butternut squash fries taste more like 'fries' and less like 'roasted squash'. Butternut squash holds an amazing amount of water. As it bakes the water releases, making it much harder to get a 'fry' like result. These may not be as crispy as your potato fry but they will hit that 'fry' spot in you. This is how I like do it...

Butternut Squash Fries 


Butternut Squash: Size doesn't matter...and I meant that, even though I live in Texas!  The longer the trunk of it the better for getting more fries. I generally cut the bulb shaped part off and use it for butternut squash hash

Salt: Coarse sea salt is best

Oil is optional but use sparingly or  none at all if you can

Parchment paper

Directions :

Pre-heat the oven to broil

Using a a strong vegetable peeler or knife. Peel the outside of the squash.

Cut off the bulb shaped part of the squash. Cut the long part of the squash into skinny even fry like strips. They should be as uniform as possible for best results. If you make thicker fries you may need to bake them after the initial broiling at 400 degrees or till done

Lay the fries out on a paper or flour sack towel. Sprinkle evenly with FINE salt and let sit for 30 minutes. This helps the squash to 'sweat' and pull some of the water out. When they are finished sweating pat dry.

Another option is to Lay the cut squash out on a paper or flour sack towel. Allow to air Dry for an hour or two, even longer if you have the time. Sprinkle with a little coarse salt)

Place the fries on reusable or disposable parchment paper. 

It is important to use parchment paper if you can. I have also found that using a glass dish makes them more soggy, so a cookie sheet would be best. 

Broil the fries for a few minutes on one side. You want them to start getting a little bit of  a 'skin' but not to burn. Take the pan out of the oven and using a spatula flip the fries over. Do the same for this side. You will need to keep broiling and flipping a few times to ensue even browning and dryness. Everybody's oven is different, so cooking times will very. For this reason, it is normal to have some of the fries burn(the smaller thinner ones of the bunch, that's why uniformity is so important). You can take out the fries that finish early and continue to flip and broil till they are done.

If you find that your broiler is to hot, you can lower the oven rack. Just remember, the goal is to cook the fries quickly (as you would in frying) That way the inside doesn't have time to get mushy. Also, gas broilers may be hotter than electric ones so make adjustments taking in to consideration  your broiler.

Butternut squash can burn easily, so toward the end of cooking keep a close eye on them or you will end up with a heap of charred squash. But don't take them out too soon either, be patient enough to let them get browned.

When finished sprinkle lightly with salt(unless you used the quick method) Cool the fries slightly on a paper/flour sack towel, spreading them out so they are not laying on top of each other. This will make them get soggy. Eat and enjoy!

I have made these a head of time and re baked them at around 450-500 degrees for a few min. They turned out pretty good that way.

Hopefully you have a GREAT oven. If so, this will be a breeze. If you have an oven like mine however, you may need to remove some fries earlier than others and turn the pan a few times during cooking.