Sunday, October 23, 2011

Valatie, NY and Sausage Stuffed Squash

We finally got out to Harvest Spirits Distillery in Valatie, NY this weekend. They are known locally for making their own vodka from apples grown on their farm; in addition to the Core Vodka, they also sell Applejack, pear brandy, and grappa, all made from ingredients grown either on their farm or neighboring farms. Next year, they should also have peach schnapps, which they decided to make with left over peaches from this year's harvest.

Tastings are $1 each (free if you buy something) and I was disappointed to discover that the Applejack was a bit too strong for my taste (and absolutely killed Mr. D., who is girly drinks all the way), opting to buy a "large" Core Vodka for $35. In a very unnecessarily nerdy way, I can't wait to substitute it for (most of) the ice water next time I make crust for an apple pie.

The distillery is a part of Golden Harvest Farms, where we stopped for apple cider donuts (which I'm pretty sure I liked more than Indian Ladder!), cider, and some squash. I didn't see any pumpkins for sale, so this sparked a panicked trek through the Capital Region searching for pumpkins, which we eventually found at a farm shop less than a mile from the house.

We picked up a large acorn squash and adapted this recipe for sausage stuffed squash from AllRecipes.

Sausage Stuffed Squash

- 1 large or 2 medium sized acorn squash
- 1 lb. pork sausage (I used sweet Italian)
- 1/2 c. finely chopped celery
- 1/2 c. finely chopped carrots
- 1/2 c. finely chopped onion
- 1 medium sized sweet baking apple, peeled and chopped into small pieces
- shredded cheese (I used mild cheddar)
- 1/3 c. sour cream
- maple syrup, to taste

1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Cut your squash in half and remove the seeds/guts. Place facing down in a small dutch oven or cookie sheet and bake for 45 minutes, until the squash is tender (uncovered, if you are using the dutch oven).

2. Meanwhile, crumble the sausage in a skillet and add the carrots, celery, and onion, cooking until the sausage is no longer pink. Remove from heat, drain.

3. In a separate dish, mix together the sour cream and maple syrup. Add to the sausage mixture and stir in your apple.

4. Remove squash from the oven, turn over, place in a small baking dish (so that they won't move around too much), and fill with your stuffing (I continued to use my dutch oven). Add some shredded cheese on top (I used one small hand full each), cover, and return to the oven for 30 minutes.

Note: This is a fairly sausage-heavy stuffing; if I made it again, I would either halve the sausage or double the vegetables (you could also add bread crumbs). I also think I'd sprinkle a little paprika on top of the stuffing before adding the cheese.

I don't think the squash itself would make very good leftovers, so once you've stuffed your squash, you can bake the additional stuffing in ramekins and it would probably be good with eggs and toast the next morning.

The original recipe includes instructions for microwaving instead of baking. I would consider microwaving the squash in place of the original 45 minutes in the oven, but I'd still try to finish in the oven, especially if you are including the apple.

The squash was incredibly filling and I served it with some warm spiced cider. Mr. D. was 100% skeptical about the squash, but would up eating the entire thing and says I should make it again. Success!

I've got a sausage and lentil stew (adapted from the A Year of Slow Cooking Blog) going in the crock pot today and have hopefully made enough to keep us in stewey good sausage-fests for a few days of lunches.

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