The Sides Have It

Andy Mueller

andy mueller | in the kitchen with chef andy | nov. 2018

I don't know what I look forward to more, the buxom bird waiting to be carved on Thanksgiving Day or the obnoxious amount of all things carb-licious surrounding it. Is it the mashed potatoes with the rich gout gravy, the sage kissed dressing with the burnt edges or the earthy sweet yams covered in marshmallows just hot enough to destroy the roof of your mouth? The answer to all of the above is a resounding yesand a double scoop of each to go!

I have to time it right as I get a little longer in the tooth. As a young egg cracker, I could fill up one leg with turkey and the other with all the fixins', then hook up an IV with gravy and go play football with the neighbors till dark. Nowadays, if I even say the word turkey I get a little sleepy and hope there's a couch nearby.

The quandary I now face is still trying to achieve Thanksgiving food coma levels without forcing too many carbs down in the process. Every year my helpings of potatoes and dressing get smaller and my new favorite filler (apples and acorn squash), gets a little bigger. It's not a dramatic reduction in carbs; it's more of a mental game of trading savory carbs with sweet and savory carbs, and that somehow makes sense in my mind this time of year. It's also not quite as heavy, so this little game of nonsensical culinary math allows me to basically feel OK doing nothing short of a full-on face plant into a larger-than-it-should-be piece of pumpkin pie.

Grandma Kathy, or GK as she's known to my sons, has been serving this apple baked acorn squash since I was a still lickin' batter off the wooden spoon (still do, just thought it was good imagery). It's as easy as anything you'll make this Thanksgiving, and it's savory enough to fit on the main plate, yet sweet enough to keep you from diving onto the dessert table before everyone's finished with their meal. One more move like that and it's back to the kiddie table for you! Happy Thanksgiving!

Baked Acorn Squash with Apples

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Cut two medium-sized acorn squash in half from stem to stern and carve out the seeds and threads.

In the dug-out center of each squash half add:

1 teaspoon butter

1 teaspoon brown sugar

1/8 teaspoon cinnamon

1/4 cup diced apples (honey crisp, gala and Braeburn are best)

Top with:

1 teaspoon butter

1 teaspoon brown sugar

1/8 teaspoon cinnamon

Wrap each half with foil to cover tightly, place foil-wrapped squash in a baking dish and bake for 1 hour. Acorn squash are done when they are soft. To check if they are done, insert a long skewer into the squash through the foil and into the squash. If it pokes through easily, it is done. If it is still firm, bake another 15 minutes or until tender. Remove the squash from the oven. Carefully remove the foil and transfer squash to a serving bowl. Squash and apples will be volcanic, please devour carefully!

Chef Andy Mueller is a well-seasoned Chef with over 30 years in the restaurant business. He's been on Food Network with Guy Fieri, was Reggie White's personal chef during their Super Bowl run in 1996 and has been Executive Chef at Zimani's in the late '80s, the original Executive Chef at Black & Tan Grille the first four years of operation and owned restaurants in Door County including Glidden Lodge restaurant north of Sturgeon Bay and Hillside Restaurant in Ellison Bay. He currently owns the massively popular supper club 'Galley 57' in Allouez at 2222 Riverside Dr.

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