recipe | Butternut squash is the perfect sheet-pan companion to roast chicken

Tarragon Chicken with Caramelized Onions and Butternut Squash.

Tarragon Chicken with Caramelized Onions and Butternut Squash.

Winter squash season is here, and there’s nothing better than a delicious butternut squash recipe. Packed with healthy nutrients like fiber, minerals and vitamins, butternut squash is not only easy to prepare, but also extremely versatile. You can mash, roast, or puree it into inviting fall soups.

It’s a great meal prep ingredient too — just dice, roast, and enjoy all week alongside grilled chicken or seared steak, on top of salads and grain bowls, or even mixed into pasta or risotto.

Though commonly thought of as a vegetable, butternut squash is technically a fruit. Cream-colored on the outside with a deep orange interior, it has a sweet, moist, and nutty flavor similar to sweet potatoes.

Choose firm squash with no blemishes or soft spots. Store in a dry, cool spot (not in the refrigerator) for up to a month or so.

To save prep time, look for pre-cut, peeled butternut squash cubes in your supermarket.

If you choose to prepare it yourself, the best way to peel butternut squash is with a vegetable peeler. To make peeling easier, heat the squash in the microwave for 30 seconds to soften the peel.

It’s not necessary to peel squash if you are going to roast it. Trim the ends of the squash and stand it upright. Make sure it is stable, and make one long cut, down the middle from the top to bottom, with a heavy chef’s knife. Scoop out the seeds (you can prepare the seeds like toasted pumpkin seeds). Lay the squash halves cut side down and cut into slices or cubes.

Roasted butternut squash is so good on its own that the only seasonings needed are salt, pepper, and olive oil. Spread the cubed squash in a single layer on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Drizzle it with olive oil and toss it with generous pinches of salt and pepper Make sure to leave a little space between each cube – this way, the squash will get nicely crisp and brown in the oven. Place the baking sheet to a 400° oven and bake for 30-35 minutes, until the squash is tender and caramelized at the edges.

Roasted butternut squash makes a great side dish on its own, or it can be blended into a warming fall soup.

Tarragon Chicken with Caramelized Onions and Butternut Squash

This recipe is adapted from Dinner in One — Exceptional & Easy One-Pan Meals, by Melissa Clark, Clarkson Potter/Publishers ($29.99).

Butternut squash is fundamentally sweet, especially when you roast it. A rich white such as oak-aged Panthera Chardonnay ($45.00) from the Sonoma Coast with notes of crème burnt offset by bright citrus flavors complement the creaminess of the squash and the sweetness of the honey.

Clark writes, “Pairing chicken with tarragon and garlic is a classic that never gets old. Here, the licorice-y herb is used to marinate bone-in drumsticks and thighs, which are then roasted on the same pan as sliced ​​onions and cubes of butternut squash. As the chicken cooks, the fat renders, coating the vegetables, while the fragrant steam rising from the onions flavors the bird. It’s a succulent, easy, and very satisfying dinner. If you prefer white meat, substitute bone-in chicken breast halves, and start checking them after 20 minutes.”

1 pound butternut squash, cut into 1-inch cubes

1 teaspoon honey

3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided, plus more for drizzling

Pinch of crushed red pepper flakes

1½ teaspoons kosher salt, plus more as needed

2 large onions, sliced ​​(about 4 cups)

½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus more as needed

3 tablespoons chopped fresh tarragon leaves (or 1 teaspoon dried tarragon)

2 garlic cloves, finely grated or minced

2 pounds bone-in, skin-on chicken drumsticks and thighs

Sherry vinegar, to taste

1. Preheat the oven to 425F. In a large bowl, toss the squash with the honey, 1 tablespoon of the oil, red pepper flakes, and a pinch of salt. Arrange the squash on one side of a rimmed sheet pan.

2. Spread out the onions on the other side of the sheet pan. Drizzle the onions and squash with a little oil and sprinkle with salt and black pepper, tossing to coat the vegetables. Roast for 15 minutes.

3. Meanwhile, in the same bowl you used for the squash (you don’t need to wash it first), stir together the tarragon, garlic, remaining 2 tablespoons oil, 1½ teaspoons salt, and ½ teaspoon black pepper. Add the chicken and toss to coat.

4. After the onions and squash have roasted for 15 minutes, toss them well. Add the chicken to the pan, nestling the pieces in with the vegetables, and roast until the chicken is cooked through and the onions and squash are browned and tender, 30 to 40 minutes. If the chicken skin or onions aren’t as brown as you’d like, run the pan under the broiler for 1 to 2 minutes.

5. Place the chicken on a platter. Drizzle the onions and squash with sherry vinegar and sprinkle with more salt and black pepper, if needed. Spoon the vegetables around the chicken and serve.

Yield: 3 to 4 servings




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