Okay, so it’s now the end of November and starting to get bloody cold. Especially in my house at uni seeing as we haven’t yet put the heating on due to being stingey students. So what you need is a proper winter warmer. Hot, sweet and creamy (not sexual in anyway), the butternut squash is so so cheap and tasty. At the moment they’re about £1 a kilo in Tesco, which will buy you a fairly big one that can feed up to 4 or 5 people easily. Butternut squash is packed full of fibre and potassium and really will fill you up, meaning you can make a pretty good, filling meal out of it. So my first recipe is sweetcorn fritters with honey-glazed butternut squash and chesnuts.
But hang on a moment.
“Woah woah woah…” you’re saying in your head, “what about the meat eaters?!”. Okay, so bear with me on this one. Once you’ve actually tasted this dish you really won’t care about the lack of meat. After all, meat is expensive, and money spent on cheap rubbish meat can be spent on booze. Well, that’s the way I look at it anyway. If you fancy some meat, however, chuck in some cooked bacon lardons with the squash and chesnuts, it’ll taste ever better.
Sweetcorn Fritters with Honey-Glazed Butternut Squash and Roasted Chesnuts.
Cost: £2 per portion
Ingredients to serve 2 people:
1 medium sized butternut squash
1 365g can of sweetcorn (you can buy the supermarket’s value range for cheaper than a chocolate bar)
2 cloves of garlic
200g of plain flour
300ml of milk
A good handful of chesnuts. (You can use walnuts, almonds, peanuts or hazelnuts, anything you have to hand. It’s all about making the butterNUT squash taste even nuttier and bulking it out to fill you up).
1 tblspn of honey or syrup
olive oil or vegetable oil
lots of salt and pepper! Don’t be boring or shy with the seasoning!
Right, firstly get your oven pre-heated to 200degrees. Using a really sharp knife, begin to peel off the skin of the squash. It’s hard and time consuming but make you’ve got off most of the white so the whole thing is orange. Cut the squash lengthways and take out all of the seeds. Start to cut up the squash in to cubes or chunks and around an inch thickness. It’ll cook quicker if diced nice and small. Shove it all into a deep roasting tray and pour in a around 4 tablespoons of oil, a few knobs of butter (which will make it taste even richer). Get 2 cloves of garlic and just bash them with your hand, don’t bother peeling them. Throw them into the pan too. The get grinding with your black pepper and chuck in a good pinch of salt all over. Quickly toss it all about so it’s all mixed with seasoning and oil, then whack it in the oven.
Next you need to think about your chesnuts. Chesnuts are brilliant. They’re healthy and tasty, and there’s nothing better than hot chesnuts burning your hands and warming your insides on a cold winter’s day. On the top of each chesnut cut a cross with a very sharp knife. Place all of them onto a tray and put under a hot grill for around 20 minutes. Keep an eye on them because they can burn, but turn them a few times, letting them heat through. Take them out of the grill once the cross that you cut has started to open out. Let them cool on the side, we’ll come back to those in a bit.
Now you need to think about the pancakes. Put the flour into a bowl, add the eggs and beat well into a paste. Slowly and in stages, start whisking in the milk to make a smooth batter. Congratulations, you just made a batter! You can use this for most things, or just making nice pancakes in the morning. Anyway, make sure the batter is nice and thick, adding more flour if need be. Season very very well, we want the pancakes to taste great! Drain your sweetcorn and put the whole can in, and give it a stir. Let the batter just settle while we finish the rest.
Right, at this point check the squash and give it a stir. Spoon over all that melted buttery goodness back over the squash and put it back in the oven. Now begin to peel your chesnuts. If you’ve cooked them long and well enough the shells will come off very easily. Make sure you get rid of that inner skin, it’s just bitter and pretty boring to be honest. Break up the nuts and put them in with the squash. Then add the lovely honey or syrup and stir again.
So this is the time crucial bit. Heat a non-stick frying pan (I got mine from Ikea for £1.79, absolute bargain!) and put in a spoon of vegetable oil. Get it nice and hot but not smoking! Ladle in a nice amount of sweetcorn batter into the pan and let it fry, making sure the pancake isn’t too thick. Once crispy underneath just flip it over and give it another minute or so. When they’re cooked just put them on the plates ready for the squash. They should stay warm for a while. Repeat for as many pancakes as you want. Grab the squash and chesnuts out of the oven and dish up.
As I said earlier you can put some bacon lardons in with the squash and mix it through, or just cook up some BACON STRIPS to go with it. To make it even more healthy have some fine green beans or any other fresh veg.