Autumn Squash in Maple, Vanilla, and Pomegranate Molasses
5 to 6 acorn or sweet-dumpling squash,
1 pound apiece
1/2 cup corn or vegetable oil
1/4 teaspoon coriander, toasted and ground
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 cup maple syrup
1/4 cup pomegranate molasses
1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise, seeds scraped with the point of a knife
4 ounces (1 stick) butter, softened
1 pomegranate, seeds removed
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Wash the squash and cut into 1-inch rings, leaving the skin intact. Scoop out the seeds; rinse and pat dry. Toss seeds in 1 tablespoon of oil, and season with coriander, salt, and pepper. Spread out the seeds evenly on a nonstick baking pan, and toast in the oven until golden brown, about 4 to 5 minutes. Set aside to cool.
Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a large, heavy-bottomed sauté pan over medium-high heat. Sauté the squash rings, 3 to 4 pieces at a time, until they are golden brown. Repeat with remaining squash, adding more oil as necessary. Place the sautéed squash in a large ovenproof dish. Remove excess oil from pan, and add maple syrup, molasses, and vanilla. When syrup reaches a boil, whisk in the butter, and season to taste with salt and pepper. Spoon syrup mixture over each squash ring until all are evenly coated. Cover the baking dish with foil and bake for about 30 minutes or until flesh is tender when pierced with a knife.
Remove squash from the baking dish and arrange on a large serving platter. Pour remaining liquid from baking dish into a small saucepan; bring to a boil, and whisk in the pomegranate seeds. Spoon the sauce over the baked squash rings and garnish with the toasted seeds.
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