I am in love with kabocha squash- it is just so creamy and sweet. This dish may be the ultimate autumn casserole. It was a little bit involved to prepare but the results were worth every minute.
This recipe was adapted from Bon Appetit, contributed by Claire Saffitz. I slightly modified the proportions and method. Fabulous!
1 small to medium kabocha squash
7 large garlic cloves
3 6-inch-long rosemary sprigs
½ cup heavy cream
freshly ground black pepper
1 bunch Tuscan kale (I used a 10 oz bag), ribs removed and torn into 1-2″ pieces (about 8 cups)
2 medium shallots
1 pound fresh pork sausage, such as sweet Italian (about 4 links)
2 cups crumbled cornbread, from a 6×4 inch piece
2 T unsalted butter
- 1 T olive oil
- Bake cornbread. (I used Trader Joe’s Cornbread Mix.) Set aside to cool.
- Position a rack in center of oven; preheat to 400°, preferably on convection.
- Cut off stem end of kabocha squash and rest on cut side. Cut squash in half. Scoop out seeds and stringy innards with a spoon; discard. Cut squash into 1″-thick slices. Using your knife, slice off the tough peel and layer of light green flesh beneath.
- Smash the garlic cloves with the side of the knife and remove peel.
- Combine squash, garlic, rosemary sprigs, heavy cream, and ¼ cup water in a medium saucepan. Season generously with salt and pepper and bring to a gentle simmer over medium heat. Cover pot and reduce heat to low. Simmer until squash is tender and easily mashes when pressed with the back of a spoon, 20-25 minutes.
- Meanwhile, grasp stem end of each kale leaf. Starting at stem, slide your other hand along length of leaf to strip leaves. Repeat with entire bunch; discard stems. Tear leaves into 1″–2″ pieces (you should have about 8 cups).
- Peel 2 shallots and thinly slice crosswise.
- Use the tip of your knife to prick the sausages all over in several places.
- Crumble cornbread into coarse crumbs (you should have about 2 cups).
- When squash is tender, remove saucepan from heat. Uncover and pluck out rosemary sprigs, leaving leaves inside pot. Transfer entire mixture to a medium bowl (reserve saucepan) and mash with the back of a spoon or a potato masher until no distinct pieces of squash remain. Season with salt and pepper.
- Wipe out pot with paper towels and heat over medium. Add butter and heat until melted. Add shallots and cook, stirring occasionally, until translucent, about 4 minutes.
- Add kale to the pot, a couple of handfuls at a time, stirring to wilt between each batch, and cook until leaves are dark green and wilted, about 3 minutes; season with salt and pepper.
- Transfer to kale to the bowl with squash, then fold to incorporate.
- Heat the olive oil in the same saucepan over medium and add sausage. Cook, turning once, until browned on both sides (they won’t be cooked through), about 6 minutes. Transfer to cutting board and let cool for a few minutes (reserve saucepan again and do not pour out fat from sausages–you’re going to use it one more time).
- Meanwhile, using a rubber spatula, scrape squash and kale mixture into a shallow 2-qt. baking dish and smooth top. (I coated the baking dish with cooking oil spray.)
- Cut sausages crosswise into 2″ pieces and nestle into top of squash mixture, spacing evenly.
- Heat the drippings remaining in the saucepan over medium and add cornbread crumbs. Cook, stirring, just until crumbs are evenly coated in fat. Scatter cornbread crumbs over squash mixture; season with more salt and pepper.
- Bake gratin until crumbs are toasty and brown and sausages are cooked through (you can insert an instant-read thermometer into center of sausage to check if registers 140°, or just cut into one with a knife), about 15 minutes.
- Let cool 5–10 minutes before serving.