Try this perfect Sunday roast alternative

Food Month: There’s pork, and there’s squash – and it’s delicious

 

When my kids asked what was for dinner and I told them about this dish, they all sighed. My eldest son (5), elected spokesperson for this little group, explained that it wasn’t really fair that they always had to eat my “work stuff”. I have to say I did feel bad. Although I would love it if someone told me they were making me hasselback squash with fried sage leaves, maple caramelised pecans, succulent roast pork and Cashel blue sauce – the perfect Sunday lunch.

This decadent combination of salty, sweet, crunchy and smooth is the type of thing dreams are made of. It may seem like there are a few elements to it, but it is very easy to prepare and just takes a little hands-on time. Hasselback potatoes are a really great way to elevate the humble spud for an occasion and in much the same way, giving a regular squash the hasselback treatment means that there will be delicate slices of squash with a caramelised, roast outer layer. A nice alternative to the usual roast butternut squash.

Needless to say, there wasn’t a scrap left on any plate after this dinner, save for some blue cheese sauce which was perfect with steak a few days later.

Hasselback Squash with Roast Pork and Cashel Blue

Serves 4-6

Ingredients:

  • 1kg pork loin
  • 1 handful sage leaves
  • 1 butternut squash
  • 100g pecan nuts
  • 3 tbsp. maple syrup
  • 100g Cashel Blue Cheese or blue cheese of your choice
  • 100g cream cheese
  • 2 tbsp. milk
  • 1 tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 tbsp. apple cider vinegar

Method: Preheat the oven to 200C. Pat the pork loin dry with kitchen paper. Score the fat on top with a sharp knife so that it crisps up in the oven. Place on a small roasting tray and season with salt. Roast for an hour, basting regularly with the fat that renders off. For the last five minutes scatter half of the sage leaves around the pork. Return to the oven for a further five minutes. Once cooked, cover the pork with a piece of foil and leave to rest. Reserve the sage leaves.

Cut the squash in half and gently scoop out just the seeds. Carefully remove the tough pale skin off the squash using a peeler. Place the squash cut side down on a baking tray and rub with 1 tsp olive oil. Bake for 15-20 minutes till just tender enough to cut easily. Once the squash is cool enough to handle transfer to a chopping board. Place two chopsticks or wooden spoons on either side of the squash, then proceed to cut thin slices, stopping at the chopstick so you don’t cut through the whole way to the board. Your squash will be kept intact but have a perfect row of slices. Repeat with the other half. Drizzle both with a little oil and season with salt. Gently place back on the tray, place a few sage leaves drizzled in a little olive oil under the hollowed out cavity. Roast till caramelised on the edges and cooked through, another 20 minutes should do.

Meanwhile mix the crumbled blue cheese, cream cheese milk, olive oil and vinegar together till combined but still retains some texture. This can be done by hand or in a blender. Just make sure it doesn’t get too smooth. Set aside.

Lightly toast the pecan nuts in a frying pan. Pour over the maple syrup and leave it bubble and reduce for a few minutes before pouring the nuts and syrup onto a non-stick surface. Leave to cook before breaking up.

Carve the pork and place on a large platter, flanked by the squash. Scatter over the fried sage leaves and the pecan nuts. Serve with the blue cheese sauce. 

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