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Gem Squash Bobotie

This is a Monsoon Coast original recipe that combines two favourite South African things. Gem Squash is a small, hard skinned squash that every South African adores. They are mild in flavour and usually boiled or steamed then served with butter or creamed corn. Bobotie is the national dish of South Africa. Similar to moussaka, the ground meat is fragrant and flavourful, sweetened with a bit of fruit.
 
In Vancouver African Breese gets in a supply of Gem Squash in the fall. They will keep most of the winter so you can keep enjoying this yummy dish.
 
Ingredients:
4 medium Gem squash (or substitute small Delicata squash)
2 tsp butter
2 tsp brown sugar
Salt and pepper to taste
 
Filling:
1 tbsp  butter
1 medium onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, crushed
3-4 tsp Durban Curry
1/4 c raisins
6 dried apricots, chopped
1 slice stale bread, torn into 1" pieces
1/4 cup milk
1 lb lean ground beef (or lamb)
3/4 tsp salt (or to taste)
pepper to taste
4 bay leaves, halved
 
Topping:
2 tbsp flour
2 tbsp butter
3/4 cups milk
1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
1 egg yolk
Pinch nutmeg
 
Method:
Preheat oven to 300F. Prepare squash by removing stem and slicing in half around the middle. Scoop out the seeds with a spoon.  Put a little butter and brown sugar into the bottom of each squash and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Rub into the flesh with your fingers. Set squash into a 9 x 13" baking pan.
 
Put raisins and chopped apricots into a cup and cover with boiling water. Heat butter in a fry pan and sauté onion over medium heat for 10 minutes until it begins to change colour.  Stir in the garlic and cook for 1 minute. Remove from heat. Drain the fruit putting the water into the bottom of the baking dish where the squash are waiting. Add raisins and apricots to the onions along with the Durban Curry and a bit of salt. Stir to combine.
 
Put the milk in a large bowl and add the stale bread. After milk is absorbed mash the bread with a fork. Add the onion mixture, stir until well combined. Add the ground meat, salt and pepper to taste. Mix gently with a wooden spoon to combine, being careful not to over blend.
 
Divide the mixture into 8 portions and fill each of the squashes with a portion of the meat mixture. Insert half a bay leaf into the top of each. Cover tightly with aluminum foil. Bake at 300F for 1 hour. 
 
Meanwhile, prepare topping by melting butter in a small sauce pan. Add the flour. Whisk and cook over medium heat for 1-2 minutes. Remove pan from the heat and whisk in the milk a bit at a time whisking continuously to remove any lumps. Once all the milk is incorporated, return pan to the burner and turn up to medium high. Stir continuously until it begins to blurb then season with salt and pepper. Reduce heat to medium low and cook for another 5 minutes. Remove from heat, stir in grated parmesan cheese and a pinch of nutmeg. Beat egg yolk in a small bowl. Add a bit of the white sauce to the yolk to temper it before adding it into the sauce. Stir until combined.
 
Remove baking dish from the oven and uncover. Turn up the temperature to 375F. Top each squash with some of the sauce. Return to the oven and cook another 20-25 minutes. Put under the broiler for a minute if you want it more browned.
 
Let rest at room temperature for 10 minutes before serving with a side of Fragrant Rice and a green veg.