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Braised Garlic and Buttercup Squash

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by Chef Didi Davis

Serves 6

Savory and comforting, do not be afraid of the garlic; it mellows and sweetens as it cooks. No need to be picky about cutting the squash into uniform chunks; the thinner pieces cook down into a sort of puree, while the larger chunks stay whole. May be made ahead and reheated.

1 cup chicken stock
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
30 whole garlic cloves (approximately 2 heads), peeled
Freshly ground black or white pepper, such as Tellicherry or Sarawak white
Good pinch of freshly ground nutmeg
2 1/2 - 3 pounds buttercup, butternut or other orange winter squash, quartered, peeled, seeded and cut into 1-inch cubes
2-3 tablespoons mixed, chopped fresh herbs of choice, such as parsley, basil, or thyme
Sea Salt, such as Cornish or Fleur de Sel

Preheat the oven to 300 degrees F.

Place stock, butter, garlic, pepper, and nutmeg in a large ovenproof saucepan or Dutch oven. Bring to a boil and simmer garlic, uncovered, for 10 minutes, or until slightly softened. Add squash and herbs and toss to coat with liquid.

Cover the pan and braise in oven for 20 minutes. Stir the mixture and braise 25 minutes more, or until the vegetables are very tender when pierced with the tip of a knife. If the squash pieces are very thick, you may need to increase cooking time by 5 to 10 minutes.

When squash is tender, transfer all vegetables to a serving bowl using a slotted spoon. Reduce liquid in pan quickly over high heat until somewhat thickened. Correct seasonings, adding sea salt if needed and more pepper as desired. Pour sauce over squash and garlic, gently mix, and serve.

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