Butternut Squash Gratin

It is doubtful if the Pilgrim’s had potatoes on their Thanksgiving table but, they most likely did have squash that the Indians brought with them to the feast.

Norman Rockwell, Freedom from Want

In fact, most of the food at their first Thanksgiving, being American foodstuff, was new to the Pilgrim’s.  The main meal was corn meal mush with nuts and fruit, probably deer and game birds, squash and pumpkin.  

"Squash, so American that its very name is Indian:  it is a shortening of the Narragansett 'askutashquash.'  As this means literally something that is eaten raw, we are entitled to believe that this was the way the Indians ate it."  - Eating in America, by Waverley Root and Richard de Rochemont

Did you like squash when you were a kid?  I do not remember ever eating squash as a child, maybe Mom did cook it occasionally but that doesn't mean I ate it.  

I probably changed when I ate a Squash Casserole somewhere and then learned to eat it baked with spices and Parmesan cheese and loved it. 

So now, Thanksgiving, is the perfect time for this delicious squash dish!  It is wonderful with all the seasonings, panko and the tasty cheese topping.

Think of squash this way, "You can enjoy it with the added advantage of not needing a tennis court or a racquet."  And if you don't have storage room for it, it will feel right at home sitting in your wine rack!

Butternut Squash Gratin                                                                                


1 T. butter
½ white onion, chopped
1 garlic clove, minced
1 ½ lb. butternut squash, peeled, seeded and cut into ¾” chunks
1 t.brown sugar                                                     
½ c. chicken broth
4 oz. Gruyère cheese, shredded
4 oz. extra-sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
½ c. panko bread crumbs
¼ t. dried sage
¼ c. grated Parmesan cheese


Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  
Grease a 2 quart casserole dish.
Melt butter in skillet, stir in onions and garlic.  
Cook until onions are soft and golden, about 10 minutes.
Add squash and brown sugar.
Continue cooking and stirring until the squash begins to brown on the edges, but is still somewhat firm in the center, about 10 minutes more.
Scrape the squash into prepared baking dish and pour in the chicken broth.
Wrap tightly with aluminum foil.
Bake in oven until the liquid has been absorbed and the squash is tender, about 45 minutes.  
In a bowl, toss together the Gruyere and cheddar cheese, breadcrumbs and thyme until evenly combined. 
Remove foil from the baking dish and sprinkle cheese mixture over squash.
Sprinkle Parmesan on top.
Place back in oven and bake uncovered for 15 minutes, until the top is slightly crunchy and golden brown.

Serves 6


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Good bread is the most fundamentally satisfying of all foods; good bread with fresh butter, the greatest of feasts!
~ James Beard

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We went for Sunday rides in the Model-T when my grandmother didn't visit. My parents liked the orange groves, miles and miles of orange trees always either in blossom or full of oranges. My parents had a picnic basket and a metal chest. In the metal chest were frozen cans of fruit on dry ice, and in the picnic basket were weenie and liverwurst and salami sandwiches, potato chips, bananas and soda-pop. The soda-pop was shifted continually back and forth between the metal box and the picnic basket. It froze quickly, and then had to be thawed.
~ Charles Bukowski, Ham on Rye


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