Slow-Cooker Braised Butternut Squash

Slow-Cooker Braised Butternut SquashSlow Turkey
With a lot of people potentially making Thanksgiving for the first time this year, we at Piedmont Grocery have been looking for recipes that strive to make life a bit easier on the big day. The best option we found? Your slow cooker…

Good turkey stock is essential for many of the other dishes that make up a Thanksgiving feast. You use it for the stuffing, the gravy, and a little drizzle over the meat on the platter before serving helps keep it moist. Sure, you could buy turkey stock, and there are lot of good ones out there. But, nothing beats the flavor and nutrition of homemade stock. The drawback is the time it takes to make it.

Enter the slow cooker. Making stock in your slow cooker is the no-hassle way to have the good stuff on hand for the big day. Throw the ingredients in the cooker in the morning and walk away. By dinner time you have a rich tasty stock. Even better, set the cooker on low and do it in your sleep. Literally. Check out our post on making your own stock.

You can also use your slow cooker for the side dishes that you don’t have room for in the oven. No matter how big your oven is, chances are there will be something that just won’t fit. So, why not throw it in your slow cooker or Instant pot? There are so many Slow Cooker/ Instant Pot recipes out there for you to search that would work well for Thanksgiving or any day frankly. My favorites tend to be the squash recipes.

My favorite find is our recipe for Braised Butternut Squash with Pecans and Cranberries. It’s simple—but looks so festive on a platter. And, the best part is you put the ingredients in the crock pot and don’t have to think about it until you’re ready to eat.

If you’re one of those souls who is cooking for the first time this Thanksgiving, first, take a deep breath. There’s no need to make it more stressful than it needs to be. Nor does it need to be exactly like Mom would make. Everything is different this year so try to roll with it and think of ways to make it easy. No matter what you do to celebrate, the important thing is that you are celebrating.

Slow-Cooker Braised Butternut Squash Recipe
Adapted from America’s Test Kitchen
Yields 4 to 6 servings

1 cup vegetable or chicken broth
2 garlic cloves
2 sprigs fresh thyme
Salt and pepper
2 pounds butternut squash

For the dressing
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon grated lemon zest plus 2 teaspoons juice

For the topping
1/4 cup chopped pecans
1/3 tablespoon minced fresh parsley
1/4 cup dried cranberries

Prepare the vegetables
Cut the butternut squash in half lengthwise and remove the skin with a carrot peeler. Scrape out the seeds and cut cross-wise into 1-inch thick moon-shaped slices. Peel the garlic cloves and smash them with the side of your knife.

Cook the squash
Combine the broth, garlic, thyme sprigs, and 1/4 teaspoon of salt in your slow cooker. Nestle the squash into the slow cooker, cover, and cook on low until the squash is tender (about 4 to 5 hours). You can also cook on high for about 3 to 4 hours.

Toast the pecans
While the squash is cooking you can toast the pecans on a baking sheet in the oven or toaster oven. When the begin to brown and become aromatic, immediately transfer them to a plate to stop them from burning.

Make the dressing
Whisk the oil, lemon zest, and lemon juice together in bowl and season it with salt and pepper to taste.

Assemble the dish
Once the squash is cooked, using slotted spoon, transfer it to a serving dish. Remove any garlic cloves or thyme sprigs that stick to squash.

Drizzle the dressing over the squash and sprinkle the dish with pecans, cranberries, and parsley.

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