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Kabocha beef pot

SERVES 4 TO 5

1/4 cup flour

1 teaspoon dried thyme

Pinch of black pepper

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 pound lean stew beef, in 1-inch cubes

2 tablespoons oil

2 medium onions, chopped

1 carrot, cut in circles

1 clove garlic, chopped

1 cup beer

1 tablespoon molasses

1 bay leaf

2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley

1 to 3 teaspoons brown sugar

1 kabocha squash, 4 1/2 to 5 pounds

1 teaspoon cinnamon

Mix together the flour, thyme, pepper and salt. Toss the beef cubes in this mixture. Heat the oil in a saucepan. Saute the beef cubes, onions, carrots and garlic in the oil until the beef cubes are browned. Stir in any leftover flour mixture. Add the beer a little at a time, stirring to scrape up browned bits

from the bottom of the pan. Stir in the molasses and add the bay leaf, parsley and 1 teaspoon brown sugar.

Taste for seasoning and if necessary add more sugar, salt and pepper to taste. Cover and simmer for 15 minutes. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Chop the top of the kabocha and reserve. Scoop out the seeds and fibrous bits. Rub the cavity with the cinnamon.

Place the kabocha in a pie dish or other shallow plate. Using a slotted spoon, fill the kabocha cavity with the meat cubes and vegetables. Add enough sauce so that the kabocha is three-quarters full. (Save any remaining sauce to

serve with the finished dish.) Use the top of the kabocha as a lid, tilting it slightly so that steam can escape.

Bake at 400 degrees for 20 minutes, then at 325 for 35 to 45 minutes or until the kabocha feels tender when pierced by a toothpick. To serve, settle the "lid" in place and bring the squash to the table. Spoon out the meat and sauce and add a generous scraping of squash. (It's good served with rice or

baked potatoes.)

Claire Hopley

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