This is a great, easy family supper that includes all the essentials in one pan. Pork sausage is one of the most inexpensive meats available, albeit quite fatty. Just drain the meat if you're using an especially fatty version. The pork sausage is nicely seasoned, meaning you don't need to add a lot of spices to the skillet meal, and the pork nicely complements the mild, sweet butternut squash. Because I'm averse to washing a lot of dishes after dinner, I add spinach to the dish, meaning I don't have to cook a separate green vegetable. The spinach also adds color and extra flavor to the hash. You can use prepared, cubed butternut squash from the market or cook and peel your own squash, which is far less expensive (see below, and I'll give you an easy way). The hash is simple, quick, and economical, yet it tastes amazingly good and makes a great "comfort food" dinner on a cold day. Enjoy!
Pork and Butternut Squash Skillet Hash -- Serves 4+
16-ounce roll of pork breakfast sausage (I use mild)
1 medium onion, chopped
1 large butternut squash, cubed (or 4-5 cups of squash)*
1/2 teaspoon of dried thyme
1/4 teaspoon of dried sage
1 teaspoon of minced garlic
1/2 cup of water
3-4 tablespoons of dried cranberries
2-3 handfulls of fresh spinach (about 4 ounces)
2 teaspoons of apple cider vinegar
Salt and pepper, to taste
Heat a large non-stick skillet or chef's pan over medium heat and crumble in the sausage. Brown the sausage for about 10 minutes and then drain it well. Add the onion, squash , thyme, and sage to the pan and saute them with the sausage for about 5 minutes until they begin to soften. Add the garlic to the pan and saute it with the other ingredients for a minute or so. Turn down the heat to medium-low, add the water and dried cranberries to the pan, and cover the pan. Cook the mixture for 5-10 minutes or until the squash is tender. Uncover the pan, turn off the heat, and add the spinach gradually, stirring in a bit at a time until the spinach wilts into the dish. Stir in the apple cider vinegar and salt and pepper to taste.
* How to Cut up a Butternut Squash With Less Hassle and Blood
Wash off a 2-3 pound butternut squash and carefully pierce it with a sharp knife in about half a dozen places. Put the squash on a plate lined with a paper towel and put another paper towel over the squash. Microwave the squash for 8-10 minutes, turning it over mid-way through the cooking process. The squash should be a little soft but not entirely cooked. Remove the squash from the microwave and let it cool, still covered with the paper towels (the towels will help steam the squash peel, making it easier to remove). When you can handle the squash (completely cooled is fine, too), cut the squash in half and scoop out the seeds and membrane (you can discard the seeds or give them to the birds which will make the birds quite happy). Using a vegetable peeler, knife, or spoon, remove the peel from the squash flesh and discard the peel. Cut the squash flesh into cubes and use it in the recipe above. If you have leftover squash, microwave it with a little butter, cinnamon, and brown sugar for a nice side dish (or use a little honey or maple syrup).