Squash poached in syrup is a typical dessert in Turkey, and it is also very common throughout Central and South America, and the Caribbean. It just seems to be North Americans who think squash is only a main course dish, no matter how much sweetener is dumped on it.
It is often served with some sort of mild, soft cheese. This version leans a little to the Caribbean, with the spicing and the rum, but the maple syrup brings it back to Canada.
I can see I am going to have a fair bit of syrup left after we have eaten the squash; I am thinking it will be good in or on bread pudding or French toast.
6 to 8 servings
40 minutes prep time plus time to cool
1.5 kilogram (3 pounds) butternut squash
1 1/2 cups dark maple syrup
3/4 cup water
1 4″ cinnamon stick
3 or 4 slices of fresh ginger
6 to 8 allspice berries
2 tablespoons rum
1 cup thick yogurt – OPTIONAL
Wash the squash thoroughly. Trim off the ends. You can leave the remainder of the skin on, or you can peel it. Cut it into even slices or chunks, discarding the seeds and stringy flesh from the centre.
Put the remainder of the ingredients – the ginger should be sliced into 1/4″ slices – into a pot in which it will cover the squash. Bring it to a boil.
Gently add the squash pieces and bring the syrup back to a boil. Reduce the heat to a slow, steady simmer. Cover the pot and let the squash simmer for 10 to 15 minutes. Turn all the pieces over, very gently, and let simmer, covered, for another 10 or 15 minutes until tender.
Let the squash cool in the syrup. If you like, place about 1 cup of thick yogurt in a coffee filter in a strainer, and leave it over a bowl to drain for a couple of hours while the squash cools. Serve with the squash.
Last year at this time I made Spanish Beef & Turnip Stew.