Mark’s Dutch Oven Acorn Squash Boats

I saw some acorn squash in a store about a month ago, and I thought back to my childhood.  I hated squash.  I mean, I really hated it.  Mom would boil it or steam it, then mash it up into this gooey pile on my plate…

Sorry, Mom.  I didn’t mean to throw you under the bus (figuratively, people), but c’mon!  Wasn’t there a better way?

So, standing there in the store, I imagined it the way I’d seen it in some cookbooks and magazines:  halved and hollowed, with a savory meat filling.  It inspired me to give it a try.  I bought them, and brought them home.

I spent a while looking over cookbooks an ‘net recipes.  Many of them caught my eye, and I got many good ideas.  The day I decided to make them, however, I decided to make them on my own.

Mark’s Dutch Oven Acorn Squash Boats

2x 12” Dutch Ovens

#1: 16-18 coals above, 8-12 coals below
#2: 18-22 coals below

The Meat/Sausage

  • 1-2 lbs ground meat
  • 1 Tbsp Garlic powder
  • 1 Tbsp Kosher salt
  • 1 Tbsp Paprika
  • ½ Tbsp Black Pepper
  • ½ Tbsp Ground Sage
  • ½ Tbsp Ground oregano
  • 1 tsp Crushed red peppers (less or more, to your liking)

The Squash Boats

  • 2 Acorn Squash, halved and seeded
  • Brown Sugar 
  • 1 cup water

The Filling

  • 4-5 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 large red onion, diced
  • 1 green sweet pepper, diced
  • 3 stalks celery, sliced
  • Kosher salt
  • 1 med tomato, diced
  • The sausage you made before

Finishing touches

  • Fresh parsley
  • Grated cheese

The first step was the meat.  I wanted some sausage, to give some edge to the dish, but we were out.  It was on a sunday, so I didn’t want to go shopping.  I looked for some ground meat, and I found some in our freezer, but I wasn’t sure what it was.  It looked like some game meat grind that a hunter friend of ours had given us.  I think it was elk.  Before church, I put it in some cool water to thaw.

After church, I got a bowl and started mixing in herbs and spices.  I paid attention to what I put in, and in what amounts so that I could write it up later with some accuracy.  That’s what I’ve got listed here.  Adjust it to your taste and to the amount of meat you’ve got.  Mine ended up a little too hot and spicy, so in the ingredients above, I’ve reduced the crushed red peppers, but only slightly.  Since this was probably a game meat, I added some olive oil (it was obviously very lean), and a few dashes of vinegar to ease the game-y taste.

I set that aside in the fridge so that the flavors could seep in.  It would still be a good hour or so before I would use it.

Then, I went out and lit up some coals.

While those were whitening up, I prepared the squash.  I halved each one and scooped out the seeds and goop.  I dusted (lightly) the inside of each one with a bit of brown sugar.  I set them in one of my 12” dutch ovens, with a bit of water in the bottom, and set that on the coals, with more coals on the lid.

I got the other dutch oven on the coals, too, underneath, heating up while I cut up the veggies.  I put in everything but the tomato to saute.  Once the onions were translucent, I added the tomatoes and stirred to cook.  finally, I pushed everything aside, and added the meat in the middle.  As it cooked, I mixed it all together.

While this was happening, I occasionally checked the flesh of the squashes for doneness.  I’d just stick them with a fork and when it was soft and didn’t resist, I knew they were done.  I pulled them off the coals, and removed them from the oven, so I could pour out the water.

This was about the time that the filling mixture was done, so I put the squash boats back in the Dutch oven and put a scoop or two of filling in each one.  Even though I mounded it up pretty high, there was leftover, so that’s good for a lunch.  I sprinkled on the parsley an the cheese, and put it back on some fresh coals (over and under, with extra emphasis on over) to bake for a bit.

At this point, all of the food is cooked, so I didn’t leave it on long.  I just wanted to bake all of the flavors together, and to melt and brown the cheese a bit.  After that, I brought it in and served it up.  Brendon had seconds.

See, Mom?  MY kids LIKE squash!  🙂

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Mark has discovered a love of Dutch Oven Cooking. Mark also has other sites and blogs, including MarkHansenMusic.com and his MoBoy blog.