As strange as it seems, I cook a butternut squash every single day. Yes, I'm well aware that it isn't always seasonal. But in my job as Expo Chef, I try to demonstrate to children how something as weird looking as a butternut squash can taste fantastic. 9 times out of 10 it works, and little Johnny, who otherwise thought something had dropped from the planet Zog into his school, is munching away like no tomorrow. And that is why I cook using a butternut squash every single day. It looks and feels weird. Lots of children don't know what it is. They decide it must be disgusting. I try to convince otherwise.
Over at The Great Big Vegetable Challenge, Charlotte has been having a version of this every day for the whole of young Freddie's life. Freddie hated vegetables, every single one of them. Charlotte decided to do something about it and looked to the world of Blogging for inspiration. Over a year has passed now and exciting things are happening in their household. For our Freddie, Expo Chef's unofficial mascot, is now a vegetable lover. So it works; inspiration, confidence and best of all, simple tasty food has won him over. Hooray! I cannot wait for the book to come out in July.
The current vegetable on trial is the Squash, and the Great Big Squash Up is challenging us all to come out with some yummy scrummy recipes that include the squash. There are loads of superb and bizarre looking squashes out there, and they are one of my favourite vegetables. Sweet, nutty, earthy and versatile to loads of cooking techniques; roast them, bake them, squash them.
As I cook using a butternut squash every day, I thought it pertinent to use one of them. This is a regional recipe adapted from the Cumbrian Tatty Pot. Similar to the Lancashire Hot Pot, it combines lamb, black pudding and vegetables which are slow cooked to melting deliciousness in a large pot. I've simply replaced the traditional potatoes with a squash and upped the flavour with lots of fresh thyme. It is simple, economical, unfussy, delicious down to earth food, the kind of food that I approve of. Let’s hope that Freddie, and all of you for that matter, approves of my Cumbrian Squashy Pot.
Cumbrian 'Squashy' Pot
Feeds a family with accompaniments
500g lamb shoulder, cubed
3 tbsp plain flour
Salt and pepper
1 onion, roughly chopped
2 tbsp vegetable oil
A handful of fresh or dried thyme
2 small black or white puddings or a combination of both like I did, sliced
1 butternut squash, peeled, halved, deseeded and cut into 1cm slices
500ml of hot lamb or vegetable stock
1 - Pre-heat the oven to 160 degrees C, GM3.
2 - Coat the lamb with flour and a little seasoning.
3 - Heat the oil in a large non-stick frying pan. Add the lamb and onions and quickly cook until golden brown for 5 minutes. Sprinkle in the thyme.
4 - Take a casserole dish. Begin to layer, starting with butternut squash, then lamb and onions, then black pudding and finally a grinding of salt and pepper. Do another layer finishing with a layer of butternut squash.
5 - Pour in the hot stock until it is barely covered. Dot a few nobs of butter on the top, cover with a lid or foil and bake on the middle shelf for 2 hours.
6 - Remove the lid or foil and cook in the oven for a further 20-30 minutes or until the top begins to brown.
7 - Rest for 10 minutes then serve with greens.