Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Beer Braised Butternut Squash and Black Bean Quesadillas

Sometimes a recipe finds you, instead of you finding a recipe. And this recipe is an example of that. The inspiration came from a precious bottle of beer, a pumpkin ale to be exact. And let me assure you, you don't find bottles of beer like this in our corner of the world. No, no you don't. Well, except for that time that a Peace Corps Volunteer in northwestern Turkmenistan inexplicably came upon a whole case of Pete's Wicked Summer Pale Ale at a tiny roadside kiosk. He ran back to his home, gathered up all his money and he and his buddy savored it in secrecy for months. Ok, a few nights, max.

But I digress.

So, our friends come over for dinner the other night and bring with them some great imported beer. And with butternut squash doing its thing right now, it seemed only appropriate to build a dish around these two ingredients.

What goes well with beer and butternut squash. Black beans, of course.

Remember the rest of the butternut squash from earlier in the week? Here's where the neck of the squash comes into play. Turn it so the flat bottom is stable on your cutting surface. Glide a knife from top to bottom, shaving the peel off in slices, rotating the squash inch by inch.

Next, slice the nekkid piece of squash into half inch slabs.

Cut each slab into half inch fingers then cut again into half in cubes. None of this was exact measure, but I'd say it was about 3 cups of cubed butternut squash.

In a large saute pan over medium high, heat some olive oil and then add a heaping tablespoon of minced garlic. Saute the garlic until it starts to brown, at which point remove it from the pan with a slotted spoon. You now have garlic infused oil, instead of bitterly burnt garlic.

Add your cubed butternut squash and toss to coat each piece. And then wait. Don't touch! Just wait about 5 - 7 minutes until the underside of each piece is nice and golden. Then shake it all about and do it again. And again.

Until you have this. Caramelized on the outside yet not so cooked that each cube begins to break down into mush. Remove the butternut squash from the pan.

If needed, add a bit more olive oil. Lower the temperature then toss in about a cup of thinly sliced onion to the pan.

Again, be patient. Don't move them around too much. Your goal is to caramelize the onions. It might take about 20 minutes and only moving them around every 4 or 5 minutes. If they start to burn, your burner is too high.

When they are nice and golden, pour in about a cup of your pumpkin ale and turn up the heat to medium!

Add 1 teaspoon of cumin and 1 tablespoon of chili powder.

Mix with about a cup more of beer until well incorporated, then toss in your cooked butternut and about 2 cups of cooked black beans.

Cook this until all parts are heated through and the beer is reduced to a thick sauce of sorts. At this point, you can put this in the fridge for a few days or the freezer for up to six months.

When you are ready to assemble your quesadillas, grab your tortilla. I buy mine in bulk from Al Sham, the arabic restaurant in town. Arabic bread. Tortilla. Flat breads world over are pretty similar. Just like people.

Cover half, or all of, the tortilla with a layer of your squash and bean mixture. Top it with shredded cheddar, minced cilantro and chopped green onion.

Fold it it in half, or add another tortilla on top, depending on which route you went. Put it in a pan over medium high heat.

Find something heavy to put on top. For me, it's my trusty stack of medium and small pots.

Cook this for about 5 minutes on each side, until the cheese is melted and it's golden brown on the outside. Cut into triangles to serve.

Next, your dipping sauce. It's all about the sauce. Mix about a tablespoon of pureed chipotle chilis into about a cup of plain yogurt or sour cream.

And there you have it. Beer braised butternut squash and black bean quesadillas. Ole!


bayleaf said...

Mmmmm! Although the beer delivery guy would surely scoff at any recipe that actually involved *cooking* with the pumpkin beer instead of just inserting neck of beer bottle in mouth and *drinking* it (I know of what I speak: even in the US I have narrowly escaped punishment for "wasting" that hoppy nectar of the gods in a nice chile con carne!), I will admit that this totally has my mouth watering for the quesadilla and its filling. Wow, you never cease to amaze me!

Andrea said...

YUM!!!!!!!!! Wish I could have been there for that! = ) You are a rock star, woman!