Stuffed Acorn Squash with Pork & Parmesan

You know what’s not a good idea? Running 3.1 miles in the snow when you haven’t run in over two months. Lord, were my quads and hammies and hips sore! Note to self: Don’t quit running again.

In other New Year’s Goals news – heretoforth to be referred to as NYG – this week I totally dominated the chin-up. When I first bought my pull-up bar in October I could do little more than hang impotently off the bar. Since then I’ve gone from barely moving up an inch, to doing neutral grip negatives, to doing full chin-ups. My boss level is currently at 65%. Pull-ups better watch out!

As bad as the snow was on New Year’s Day, it was even worse on the 2nd. It was so bad, in fact, that I didn’t have to go to work that day. Of course, I didn’t get that memo until I was already settled in at the office and checking my email, but hey, at least I got to book it early and spend the rest of the day cozy in my apartment…which I did for approximately the next five days. It got cold here, yo*.

That would be steam coming up from the river. Second time ever that I've seen this happen.

#Chiberia: The morning after. That would be steam coming up from the river. Second time ever that I’ve seen this happen.

*I must also give props to the higher ups for subsequently allowing us to work from home on Monday when the high was -10°, without even factoring in the wind chill. I was very thankful for that.

At some point I took the opportunity of a break in the snowfall and the deep freeze to head to the grocery store to pick up sustenance. I’ve been wanting to try out this recipe for Stuffed Acorn Squash that I found at Runner’s World and my newly free day week was the perfect time to try it out.

Acorn Squash 4

I did my usual edits, swapping the ground beef for pork and the cheddar cheese for parmesan, but otherwise followed the recipe straightforwardly. The recipe is surprisingly simple, incredibly filling, and rather healthy, provided you don’t suffocate the thing in cheese. One change that I made that I think substantially improved the recipe is to sprinkle the squash with salt and pepper prior to filling it with the meat mixture. I find acorn squash to be a little bland on its own, but add a little salt and pepper and all of its sweet deliciousness comes right out. You can leave that out if you feel differently.

Acorn Squash Collage

1 small acorn squash
½ cup water
½ pound ground pork
2 tablespoons chopped onion
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
½ tablespoon dried rubbed sage
¼ cup plus 2 tablespoons milk (I used almond milk)
¼ cup freshly shredded parmesan cheese
salt and black pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 375°.

This is the hardest part of the recipe, but perhaps the best because you inadvertently get an upper body workout in when you do this. Get the biggest knife you have and cut the squash in half. If you’ve never done this before, here’s what I do: jab the knife in as far as it can go and wiggle it back and forth a little to widen the cut. Ease the knife out and jab it in again at a nearby spot, continuing the line you’ve started. Keep doing this until the knife hits cutting board on the other side. At this point you should be able to stand the squash on its root end and cut any remaining uncut flesh straight through. To separate at the root, simply pull apart using your brute force. When you’ve got this done, place the halves cut side down in a baking dish and add the water. Cover the pan with foil and bake 35-40 minutes, or until the flesh is soft and can easily be pierced with a knife.

While this is happening, brown the pork and onion over medium heat, then drain any remaining fat. Stir in the flour and sage, add salt and pepper to taste, and stir. Add the milk and bring the whole thing to a boil. Cook, stirring, for a couple minutes or until the mixture becomes thick. At this point it might look a little, well, less than appetizing, but trust me, it tastes pretty good.

When the squash is ready, remove it from the pan with water and place it on a baking sheet, cut side up. Sprinkle with salt and pepper, with desired, and fill the cavities with the meat mixture. Bake at 350° for 20-30 minutes. Finish the squash by sprinkling the parmesan cheese over the top and return it to the oven for 5 minutes until the cheese is melted.

Makes 2 servings.

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5 comments

  1. Dan and I (well, me) made this the other night and it was SO GOOD. Thanks for sharing! We also decided the pork would be fantastic over a biscuit. We got a ton of pork chops at the Costco the other weekend, and they’re lean and super big. We actually cut up and then ground 1 in our new food processor, and it was the perfect amount of pork for this, with no grease once it cooked down.

    1. On a biscuit! That is genius. Ooh, and if you topped it with a fried egg? I bet that would be one hell of a breakfast. Mmm…now I want biscuits.

      I’ve never tried grinding my own meat in my food processor. I’ll have to give that go sometime and see how it turns out. Sounds super easy and much healthier than the ground meat you’d buy at the store.

      1. Yeah, all you need is a nice cut of meat, and you can just kind of cut it into 1-2″ cubes (or so) and dump it all in the processor. Just pulse it a few times (maybe 3-6x) until it’s the right consistency. It’s a great way to make sure you’re getting good ground meat, or to make a nice ‘blend’ of things, say, for chili, where you might want like ground pork and beef.

        And yeah, on a biscuit w/ an egg? Heaven.

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