Beef Curry with Butternut Squash

To me, butternut squash has always been some faint relation of a pumpkin and a pumpkin in Ireland is something that you hollow out, holding your nose at the foul smell and then stick a candle into for Hallowe’en, not to eat mind you but to ward off the ghouls and ghosts.  If you can’t get hold of a pumpkin you use a turnip and that is that.  I’ve had a gradual awareness that across the water the innards of these strange looking species are transformed and used to make things like soups and pies especially around Thanksgiving.  Having scooped out the messy pulp within many a pumpkin it’s not something that I’ve been tempted to try thus far.
So what happened?  Well, I was browsing through BordBia’s ‘Food for family and friends’ booklet and I came across a delicious looking casserole with what looked like great big chunks of carrots nestled in amongst the moist looking beef.
Beef Curry with Butternut Squash
The recipe told me that it was ‘Beef Curry with Butternut Squash.’  I knew I’d seen these anaemic looking vegetables looking up at me from the entrance display of my local SuperValu and when I went to buy them they were being sold in packs of 2 in the pick and mix-buy 3 for 4 euro section – incredible value.
So home they came and I lobbed them up on the chopping board and went with my instincts on the preparation.  I’ve photographed how I’ve done it here.
Butternut Squash whole
Butternut Squash Top and Tail
Butternut Squash Peel
Butternut Squash Halved and Scooped
Butternut Squash ChoppingAnd there you have, butternut squash.  I’ve made this curry three times now and it’ll continue to grace the table as long as the butternut squash stays on the supermarket shelves.  The original Bord Bia recipe uses cinnamon sticks but as I’d used up the two I had in my first go at the curry I switched to a tbsp of ground cinnamon instead which is a lot handier and there’s no surprising bark floating around in the dinner.  As I didn’t have fresh coriander to garnish I used parsley but honestly there is so much going on in terms of flavour in this dish it doesn’t really need anything.  After the success of the butternut squash I’m going to have to give pumpkin a go sometime soon, but in a sweet pie?  We shall see.
Beef Curry & Butternut Squash with spoon
Beef Curry & Butternut Squash
Beef Curry with Butternut Squash
You will need:
1 butternut squash
2 tbsp olive oil
1 kg lean beef pieces
1 onion
4 cloves garlic
2 red chillies
4cm chunk of fresh ginger
Seeds from 6 cardamon pods (bash the pods with a pestle and mortar, use the seeds and discard the husky bits, if you don’t have them just leave it out)
1 tbsp ground cinnamon
1 and half tbsp ground cumin
1 and half tbsp ground coriander
400g tin chopped tomatoes
200mls beef stock
Zest and juice of 1 lemon (gives it a nice kick of flavour, but not absolutely necessary)
Fresh coriander or parsley to garnish
Preheat the fan oven to 16o / Gas Mark 4
Prepare the butternut squash as per the pictures above and set aside.
Peel and chop the onion and garlic.  De-seed and finely chop the ginger.  Peel and grate the ginger and set aside.
Heat the olive oil in a large hob-proof casserole dish and brown the beef in batches for a couple of minutes.  (It doesn’t have to be completely brown on all sides, this is not done to cook the beef but to improve the flavour by searing it.)
Remove the seared beef to a plate while you cook the chopped onions in the casserole dish for a couple of minutes – add more oil if needed.
Add the chopped garlic, chillies, ginger, cardamon seeds, ground cinnamon, cumin and coriander and stir through the onions and cook for a couple of minutes.
Add in the prepared butternut squash and stir well to coat with the spices.
Stir in the tinned tomatoes and the stock and return the meat and its juices back into the casserole dish.
Cover the dish and cook in the oven for an hour and a half.
To serve: stir in the juice and zest of a lemon and sprinkle over some chopped coriander/parsley.  Serve with rice and a dollop of natural yoghurt.
Enjoy.
Til next time, Sheila.