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Author Notes: Roasted squash meets pear-cranberry crumble and baked apples in this ducken that's easier and better than any savory meat ducken you've thought (and talked yourself out) of making. Medium-sized squash get stuffed with a whole apple, which gets stuffed with cranberries. There's a pear-cranberry "stuffing" lining the squash insides and an oat topping up top. They're small enough that they don't take 15 hours to make, and the flavor is better than the sum of your parts (which I'm not sure you can say about a turducken). —Ali Slagle
- 4 medium-sized red kuri squash (or another variety of similar size and shape). Imagine fitting one apple in the middle; if you think it’ll work, that’s your squash.
- 4 medium-sized apples that will fit in your squash, peeled and cored
- 2 ripe but firm pears (think Bartlett, Bosc, D’Anjou), peeled and chopped into smallish (1/4-inch) cubes
- 3/4 cup fresh cranberries
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 cup plus 1/2 cup brown sugar, divided
- 1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon cardamom
- 2 teaspoons cornstarch
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly grated ginger
- 1 tablespoon plus 1/4 cup all-purpose flour, divided
- 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
- 2/3 cup oats
- 1/4 cup sliced almonds
- 2 tablespoons almond butter
- 4 tablespoons butter, melted
- Preheat the oven to 350° F. Wash the squash, cut the top off each, and remove their seeds. Line a baking dish with foil and place the squash on foil. They shouldn’t touch (you may need a second dish depending on the size of your squash and baking dish).
- Place one apple in the center of each squash; if the apple sticks up a bit, that’s okay. Fill the cores of the apples with cranberries (should be close to two tablespoons in each).
- In a medium bowl, mix together your “stuffing”: the pears, the remaining 4 tablespoons of cranberries, 1/4 teaspoon salt, 1/4 cup brown sugar, 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon, cardamom, ginger, 1 tablespoon flour, and lemon juice. Fill the space between the squash and the apple with this mixture, all the way up to the squash opening. Depending on the sizes of your squash and your apples, this could mean a little or a lot—just like in a turkey.
- Next, make the oat topping: mix together the 1/4 cup flour, the oats, the 1/2 cup brown sugar, the remaining 1 teaspoon cinnamon, 1/4 teaspoon salt, the sliced almonds, and the almond butter. Then stir in the melted butter and mix with your hands to combine.
- “Seal” the squash openings with the oat topping—don’t be shy, more is more here. Bake in the oven for 2 hours or until the squash is tender to the touch. Let cool a bit, then cut each squash in half or wedges to serve.