Monday, September 3, 2012

home cookin'

I've waxed poetic on the difficulties of thinking inventively with eggplant.  I've mentioned okra as well, which is another not-very-versatile vegetable.  I usually just fry it.  Not much of a recipe there.  But the other one we always get dumped with this time of year is yellow squash.  Last year I told you about my secret weapon:  summer squash pancakes.  I actually haven't made those yet this summer.  I need to do that!  

  Now that I'm in the South, though, there is one preparation of squash that reigns supreme:  squash casserole.  The basic premise behind many approaches to vegetables in the South is the same.  Cover in something rich or cook in pork fat.  I'm totally in for either way.  This one falls into the former category.  

The other night, for our church supper, I volunteered to make squash casserole for forty.  It was an adventure, and I'm surprised to say that I enjoyed cooking in bulk like that!  Maybe a secondary calling in my future?

Boom!  Take that, squash casserole.
As expected, many of the younger crew at the church supper did not dig my casserole.  They are squash haters, in general.  As is my husband.  He has a textural aversion to - wait for it - anything that is firm on the outside but squishy on the inside.  Yeah, think about it for a second.  That's a lot of stuff, including most of the crops of summer:  tomatoes, squash, berries, peaches and other stone fruit, mushrooms.  Whatever.  More for me.

The older folks at church, though, raved about my recipe.  They demanded it.  They implored me to publish it in the next church newsletter.  I've developed a minor cult about this squash casserole.  It's crazy.  It's the sour cream, they said.  
So I thought I should share it with you all, too.  It's easy.  If you want to make this grain-free and take away that final layer of decadence, omit the Ritz.  It will still be really tasty.

Squash Casserole
6 C yellow squash and/or zucchini, cut into a large dice
bacon grease or fat of your choice to coat bottom of skillet
1/2 onion, cut into a large dice
4 T butter
1/2 C sour cream
1 C grated cheddar
1/2 t salt
1/4 t pepper
1/4 t garlic powder
1 sleeve Ritz crackers, crushed (about 1 cup)
Oven - 350.
Warm bacon grease in a large skillet over medium-low heat.  Add squash and cover.  You want it to cook until it is very soft and has released all its moisture - about twenty minutes.  Stir occasionally.
Meanwhile, heat the butter in a small skillet and add onion.  Cook over medium heat until soft and translucent, about ten minutes.

Also meanwhile, mix together sour cream, cheddar, salt, pepper, and garlic powder in a 9x9 glass baking dish.  When onions are finished, add them and the butter to the baking dish and stir to combine.  

When squash is very soft, remove it from the skillet with a slotted spoon, pressing it with another spoon to remove all the excess water.  Place it into the baking dish as well, and stir together.

Cover the casserole with crushed crackers.  Bake at 350 for 25-30 minutes, until bubbling and browned on top.  Serves 6.

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