Butternut Mash Like Grandmas

I am trying to recreate my favorite thanksgiving side, a mashed butternut squash dish that my grandmother used to have at our family thanksgiving. Unfortunately there is no family recipe for this as she always bought it premade from Shaws market in Sudbury (I called and they no longer make this.) In previous years I have roasted the squash halves on a baking tray cut side down and its turned out OK but the flavor has not wow-ed (I do not remember the squash having a particularly roast-y flavor). Yesterday I tried a recipe from chefsteps which involved vacuum sealing the squash and then boiling them for 25 minutes before pureeing and adding xanthan gum. The texture was thick, gummy, and gross but it kind of smelled right. I did it again without xanthan and it was ok but the second batch tasted undercooked, not bright enough, and had a faint starchiness. Now going into round three I am trying to correct for two problems - first is to brighten and strengthen the butternut flavor. Second is to get a smooth mash that isn't gummy. For part two I am thinking that using a ricer or food mill (I have both) will get the texture I want. I am not sure whether to continue with boiling the squash in bags and just do it longer or roasting it. Accepting all advice!

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7 Comments

AntoniaJames November 30, 2015
If the color was really orange, perhaps they included some sweet potatoes?
I'd contact Shaw's again, sending an email via their website, asking them (i) if there any old-timers there who are familiar with it, who can tell you how it was made; or (ii) if they can tell you who their supplier was. If you can find the vendor, the chances are good that you can find the information you need. Bee sure to add that this was a family favorite, your grandmother always served it, etc. They might want to be more helpful, if you do. ;o)
 
amysarah November 30, 2015
No idea what other ingredients/flavorings may have been in there (butter, brown sugar, nutmeg, etc.) But since it seems you want to intensify the squash's essential flavor, maybe try "cooking it down" - there's a lot of moisture in a butternut squash and reducing it might concentrate the flavor, maybe even caramelize some of the natural sugars a bit. After cooking - boiling, steaming, roasting, whatever - and mashing (by hand or food mill,) try heating it over low/med flame until a lot of the fluid evaporates, careful that it doesn't scorch, before adding other ingredients. Just a thought.
 
stacy November 30, 2015
We boil chunked squash pieces until they fall off a knife (like potatoes), drain and mash with equal parts butter and brown sugar - we eyeball it so I don't know the squash:butter/sugar ratio. It's very orange and tastes like squash. We mash with a hand masher
 
Nancy November 26, 2015
Do you have anybody you can about taste and texture memories?
I know Stompin Tom is gone (alas).
But what about family members, or a facebook group you could ask?
 
Ali S. November 26, 2015
It seems what you're going for is a mash that is full throttle squash flavor. I really like this recipe because it doesn't cloud the squash flavor with many ingredients. The additions just help bring out the squash flavor and make the puree creamier: https://food52.com/recipes/9965-butternut-squash-puree
 
Dustimily November 26, 2015
Thanks Ali - Unfortunately that just doesnt look right to me. There was definitely no cream in the one we used to buy, the color was much more orange and it was not hand mashed, there were no chunks. I also think it looks greasy in the photos...
 
Ali S. November 26, 2015
Hmm I'm sorry this isn't what you're looking for! You could certainly skip the cream and purée the cooked squash in a food processor or blender. The sautéing-steaming cooking technique may be something to consider, though, since I find it really brings out the squash flavor.
 
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