Over the summer, I flipped through Paul Virant’s The Preservation Kitchen while at my favorite cookbook shop and Butternut Squash Aigre-Doux jumped out. I love a new discovery and I decided on the spot that this had to be on my Thanksgiving menu. That was all the justification I needed to buy this gem of a book.
Now, I didn’t actually know what an aigre-doux was, but anything with butternut squash is bound to taste good and I was curious. Aigre-doux is French for sour-sweet, which is always a delightful combination that catches my attention. Fruit or vegetables (think blueberries, asparagus, cranberries or cipollini onions) are cooked with wine, vinegar, sugar and seasonings and transform into something that will make your taste buds tingle.
For this aigre-doux, butternut squash is simmered with sweet onion, maple syrup, wine and vinegar. The original recipe calls for sherry and sherry vinegar, but I used white wine and white wine vinegar instead.
As the rain poured outside, my kitchen filled with a delicious scent from the bubbling pot and all was warm and cozy. When I took my first nibble of squash, it was one of those “oh wow, this is seriously good” moments. The squash is sweet, but not overly so due to the bright acidity of the vinegar. Paul Virant recommends cooking the finished aigre-doux down a bit to form a glaze on the squash and serving it warm on your Thanksgiving table. I will! And I have already served it with soft goat cheese and toasted baguette slices - really, a wonderful combination of flavors and unique way to enjoy butternut squash.
Wishing all of you a warm, happy Thanksgiving holiday this week!
Butternut Squash Aigre-Doux
Makes 4 pints
Adapted from The Preservation Kitchen
By Paul Virant
2 pounds of butternut squash (about 1 large squash), cut in 1/2 inch dice
1 medium sweet onion (I used a Walla Walla), thinly sliced
1 3/4 cups dry white wine
1 1/2 cups maple syrup (I used grade B)
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2/3 cup white wine vinegar
Have 4 clean pint jars ready. In a large pot, stir together the squash, onion, wine, maple syrup, salt and pepper. Cover the pot and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Lower heat to a simmer and cook until squash is fork tender, about 15 minutes.
Using a slotted spoon, scoop the squash pieces out and fill the jars. Add the vinegar to the brine left in the pot and bring to a simmer. Carefully pour the liquid into a heat proof pitcher and pour the brine over the squash in each jar, leaving 1/2 inch space at the top. Push the squash down a little to see if you can add more. You may have some brine leftover and can discard it. Screw the lids on the jars.
Pop the jars in the fridge where they will keep up to one month, but you'll gobble them up before that!