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Home food at its comfiest, winter squash has taken a new center stage in cooking with local flavors and ingredients because it's available all winter at the markets.

Broasted squash carries the harvest into winter 

Home food at its comfiest, winter squash has taken a new center stage in cooking with local flavors and ingredients because it's available all winter at the markets. (I have a couple in my pantry from last winter.)

Recipes abound—a cursory Google search turned up 70-plus recipes, many of them similar. The same is true for two of my favorite cookbook authors: Mark Bittman and Deborah Madison. They use the words "braised" and "caramelized," as did many of the Google offerings.

We roast every kind of veggie at our house: carrots, sweet potatoes, fingerlings, green beans, Brussels sprouts, tomatoes. This is mainly because you can put them in the oven alongside something else, such as a quiche, lasagna or other main dish, and they cook themselves. Since we are such fans of roasted vegetables, that's how we prepared these enduring winter storage favorites—after a bit of braising to get them started and seal in their flavors. So, are they "broasted?" That's a word I heard tossed around about whole chicken and chuck shoulder roasts once upon time.

For the following recipe, I recommend butternut squash because its smooth surfaces are easy to peel with a rotary peeler, but any winter squash will do. Acorn, delicata and the small pumpkin-shaped Muscat de Provence are all delicious.

click to enlarge Click for larger image • Winter squash: Eat 'em now—or later - PHOTOS BY JEREMY M. LANGE

Broasted Winter Squash

4 pounds butternut or other winter squash, peeled, seeded and cut into half-inch chunks
3 tablespoons apple cider
3 tablespoons butter
3 tablespoons canola oil
1/3 cup brown sugar (or to taste) mixed with scant 1/4 teaspoon ginger
1 teaspoon kosher salt
Freshly ground pepper

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Over medium-low heat, mix cider, butter and canola oil in an ovenproof skillet (such as cast iron) until butter is melted and incorporated. Add squash and stir to coat. Bring to a gentle simmer. Meanwhile, combine the sugar, ginger and salt in a measuring cup. When squash is at a simmer, stir sugar mixture into it, tossing to combine evenly (as for apple pie filling) and cook another minute or two. At this point you can continue to simmer if you want to keep stirring it, and skip the baking. Transfer skillet to oven and bake for 30 minutes or until tender, stirring once to coat in sauce. Add pepper and more salt if needed. Serves four to six as a side.

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