Buttery Bacony Butternut

This recipe could not be any easier and it’s elegant enough to make it to the Thanksgiving table.  One butternut would serve approximately 8-10 people, slice it up and you’re done.  The skin is completely edible and becomes soft when roasted, but you can also just scoop out the flesh and eat that too.  The flavors of the bacon, maple syrup, pecans and the very subtle licorice flavor of the fennel fronds combine magically – I wouldn’t change a thing!

1 Underwood butternut squash
2 T olive oil
2 T maple syrup (the real stuff of course)
4 slices of bacon, cooked crisp and crumbled
1/4-1/2 cup candied pecans, chopped (recipe below)
2 T fennel fronds, finely chopped

Candied Pecans

2 cups of pecan halves or pieces
1 T butter
3 T brown sugar
1 T maple syrup
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper (optional)

In a preheated 350 oven, roast the pecans on a parchment lined cookie sheet for 10 minutes stirring every 3-4 minutes until the pecans are toasted.   Melt the butter in a saucepan and add brown sugar, maple syrup and spices.  Add the toasted pecans hot out of the oven (be careful – they may sputter and sizzle), stir to coat and then add back to the lined cookie sheet for another 10 minutes, again stirring every 3-4 minutes.  Watch closely as they can burn easily.  Let cool and chop 1/2 cup for the recipe and eat the rest!  They are great on a salad or just served in a bowl as an appetizer or snack.

Slice the butternut squash in half lengthwise, remove the seeds, and baste the cavity generously with olive oil. Roast halves at 375 degrees (cut side down) until soft and easily pierced with a knife, about an hour.

To serve, brush each half with 1 tablespoon of maple syrup and garnish with bacon crumbles, pecan pieces and fennel fronds.

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