How you doing? How you feeling? And who the heck is hungry right now?
Two weeks ago I was out to dinner in San Francisco with a good buddy before a concert, and we stumbled into a restaurant, and I was blown away by an appetizer on the menu. Mainly because it seemed like something that could work well into the type of diet I use to help treat my colitis. So, after doing the usual thought dance of “what should we make for dinner?” with Michaela, I decided it was time to crank out some Butternut Squash Eggs Benedict style. Sounds pretty yummy doesn’t it! Well, you be the judge of that, but if you’re like Michaela, you might find yourself pulling the, “Is there enough for me to make another one” game.
Before I get into the recipe below, I want to send a shout out to my old place of employment – the Santa Barbara Yacht Club. Reason being they have the best Eggs Benedict on Sunday mornings this side of the Mississippi. How do I know that? Well, as a waiter down there (at least this was the case 10 years ago), we got to scarf down all the leftover buffet food the members didn’t eat on Sunday Brunches, and even after sitting in the warmer for a few hours, the eggs benedict were always unfriggin believable. So this is a tribute to those drunken sailors down that way and some friends who still work there (just without bread since I haven’t had that for 3 years now!).
Butternut Squash Eggs Benedict Recipe:
1 butternut squash
bacon (I only use fresh bacon bought over the counter, not the packaged stuff OK Brent)
tad of salt
tad of pepper
olive oil (or you can use leftover bacon grease if you want)
First, turn your oven on to 385 F, or 200 degrees Celcius. Next, start off by slicing the butternut squash. Their are seeds inside the fatter end of the squash, so if you cut slices that are about a half inch or 1.5 cm thick from the opposite end, those will work real well. You don’t want paper thin slices. And of course if you want even thicker slices, that’s fine too. You should get about 6 or seven slices before you get to the section which has the seeds in it. Oh yeah, make sure you’re using a really sharp knife, these butternuts are not like cutting butter, and you’re gonna need some muscles to get through them. Just be careful and you’ll do fine.
Once you’ve got yourself some slices, this is what things will start to look like. If you’re lucky, you might get one that is a super cool orange color, this one was not, but I’ve been lucky before with those. Give your wife or boyfriend or girlfriend a huge kiss if you got one of those orangey orange ones.
OK, I’m not sure how many sides a stop sign has, but you need to cut the peel/outter skin off the squash now. Just take your time, and with a sharp knife cut off the peel part unless you are a beaver and like snacking on that nasty part. Those two big hunks of butternut squash in the back I did not use, just there since they look good…
With your oven at about 385 degrees Fahrenheit or about 200 Celsius, place the butternut squash slices on a baking tray and add water until it just covers the squash pieces. VERY IMPORTANT to add the water here. Otherwise you’re gonna be pretty pissed off when your squash is black and not coming off the tray later.(Don’t ask me how I know that please)
Bacon time. I like to fry my bacon since we got a pretty cool frying pan for a present one year. Teflon, doesn’t stick…you know what I mean. So get out a few bacon strips, and start pan frying them. I use low-medium heat, and I flip them over constantly. They will take about 10 minutes, maybe a few minutes more. Oh yeah, I like them extra crispy, but the crispiness is up to you. You make that call.
Once the bacon looks done, I let the strips sit on a paper towel to get off some of the good stuff. Also, Michaela hates the greasy bacon, so you know… Also, I chop up all the bacon once its hard and brittle into little bacon bits. When you have the little bacon bits, they are easier to place on-top of the egg later on. But again, if you want to keep them as long strips, up to you. It’s gonna taste the exact same.
Kale. Have you ever eaten it before? If not, that’s OK. I’m pretty sure you’ll like it. AND as an added bonus, it has all sorts of good things in it. Highest vitamin content per pound compared to any other leaf according to some nutritionists. So, I just wash it off, and then its time to peel off the leafs from the stalks.
Here you go, just the kale leafs now. YUM YUM. Now go clean off your bacon frying pan, and get that ready to cook up the kale.
Add some water to the frying pan, and add in all the kale leaves. With medium heat, you want to cook this stuff. Kale is pretty hard when its fresh, so it might take 15-20 minutes to cook it on down to a softer texture. If you’d like to eat a few nibbles along the way that fine. We all do it. Side tip, get yourself a lid like you see in the picture and put it over the frying pan. This will allow the kale to steam as well. Lastly, don’t start freaking out on me when you notice the kale is going to become much smaller. That’s what it’s supposed to do! Also, feel free to shake it around and stir it up from time to time. OK, lastly this time. After you’ve been cooking the kale for a few minutes, add in a pinch of salt and pepper. Tiny amounts of both. Maybe a quarter teaspoon of salt or less. And just a few turns of the pepper grinder is all you’ll need. Once the kale is cooked and soft, set it aside and take it off the heat. Keep it covered though, we want it to stay warm.
Well, your butternut squash are probably going to be the next thing you’re dealing with. I cooked mine here for a total of about 45 minutes. I checked them after 30 minutes and they were not soft enough for me. You might have some super oven, I don’t know, but you want them to be real soft, and you still want to have water in the bottom of the tray when you’re done. If you noticed that there is not any water in there while they are still cooking, ADD SOME MORE WATER. When they are finally all soft and look ready, take them out of the oven. You’ll need them soon.
If you happen to have an egg poacher, great. If not, and you’re like me, well that’s just fine too. I have a smaller frying pan which I used to cook the eggs in. I add some olive oil to the pan and turn it up to medium heat and do a quick fry. For this dish, I don’t flip the egg over. Instead, I try to do a “poor man’s poaching” by placing a lid on top of the frying pan while the eggs cooking. It’s all up to you how long you want to cook your eggs. I like the eggs a bit runny on the yolk side, and I think that goes well with the butternut squash benedict idea. But again, cook them how you like.
The moment we’ve all been waiting for right. To put it all together:
Place a slice of cooked butternut squash down on the plate
Add some kale on top of the squash
Add the cooked egg on-top of the kale
Add some of the bacon bits on the very top
YOU’RE DONE! YIPPIE!!
Well, the one above was for Michaela. These two were for me.
Now what are you waiting for, start eating!
So there you are, the Butternut Squash Eggs Benedict meal that I’m pretty sure a whole bunch of you are going to enjoy as much as Michale and I did. If you want to know exactly how much she liked it, look no farther than right here:
I’d love to hear from anyone who is motivated to go out and make these little whoppers up. And if you come up with a variation on this, go ahead and write a comment below on what you did. I think it’s real safe to say that this will be making its way into my diet many a times in the future and it’s definitely going to be added to my cookbook when I come out with the latest edition in the not too distant future.