I adore the scene in Anthony Bourdain’s program ‘Parts Unknown’ where he ends up at Daniel Boulud’s father’s house in Lyon preparing a whole roasted squash stuffed with toasted bread, cheese, lardon, and mushrooms that is baked in an old wood-burning oven. The light tension between Daniel and his father as they cook together made me laugh out loud, mostly because it reminded me of basically every single time I have cooked with my own French mother. The episode offers a glimpse into the real side of French home cooking that often gets hidden behind the glamorous image of French gastronomy.
As a viewer, it’s very easy to imagine yourself being there with the Boulud’s and tucking into that delicious squash. I would have loved to try the accompanying sausages that were slow cooked in the homemade still over the fermented grape skins. I am still drooling, pardon the pun. Storytelling naturally works so well with food because each recipe is in itself an edible story, whether it be of the origins of a particular cuisine or perhaps an ingredient. We all love and appreciate the ability of great storytellers like Bourdain because they pepper their stories with so many sensory details that we feel like an active participant in the drama unfolding. Anthony was a master of this and the reason why a generation of cooks idolize him.
Last weekend I watched and rewatched that particular episode several times then decided to give the recipe a go. It was surprisingly simple and can be easily made in everyone’s kitchen, even a novice cooks.I used a five or six-pound Musque de Provence winter squash although you could successfully make it with almost any variety (red kuri squash, blue kuri squash, sweet dumpling squash, etc.).
My efforts and recipe are dedicated to the complicated memory of Anthony Bourdain, the world will miss a great modern storyteller.
Whole Roasted Squash
a whole roasted squash stuffed with toasted bread, cheese, lardon, and mushrooms that is easily made at home.
- 1 winter squash about 5 pounds
- 1/2 tsp grated nutmeg
- 6 ounces bacon or pancetta diced
- 1 sweet onion chopped
- 2 cloves garlic mashed
- 1 pound chanterelles cleaned and sliced
- 8 ounces toasted bread slices I used a boule made with rye but sourdough would be great too.
- 1 pound Cantal cheese (or Gruyere or any hard cheese you like) grated
- salt and black pepper
- 2 cups heavy cream
Cut a hole in the top of a winter squash around the stem, remove top then seeds.
Season squash interior with salt, pepper, and grated nutmeg. You could also add any other baking spices you like such as a small sprinkling of cinnamon or mace.
Cook bacon till crispy then drain on paper towels, saving the fat to cook onion and garlic.
Saute onion and garlic in bacon fat until tender, about five minutes. Add chanterelles (Foods In Season sells them in almost every Costco across America) and cook until they are dry. Chanterelles will release a bit of water as they cook. Keep sauteing until they are soft and the liquid has evaporated. Check seasoning, you could add herbs de Provence, rosemary, thyme, espelette pepper or any other flavorings you enjoy. Be bold - experiment. Add bacon to mixture and stir well.
Start layering the sauteed chanterelles, toasted bread, and grated cheese inside the squash till you reach the rim.
Pour cream inside, cover with top and bake in a preheated 350 degrees for 90 to 120 minutes. It will be bubbling profusely and easily pierced with a paring knife when done. I would advise you to cook in a pan that you will serve it in.
Remove from oven, let sit a few moments then slice into wedges tableside. Enjoy!
This simple dish begs to be modified and adapted to your tastes. Next time I will remove the bacon and use crumbled cooked sausage and sauteed mountain rose apples. Experiment, have fun, be brave.
I used a five or six-pound Musque de Provence winter squash although you could successfully make it with almost any variety (red kuri squash, blue kuri squash, sweet dumpling squash, etc.).