Tuesday, 29 January 2013

Butternut Squash Fries Experiment

I'm really new to Butternut Squash but it's fast becoming a favourite. Prior to making these 'fries' I'd only roasted it a few times, I love roasted Butternut Squash but felt that I could do a lot more with it. Plus, I miss experimenting, there hasn't been a lot of that going on recently.

I haven't eaten chips in over 3 weeks due to a bit of post moving over indulgence, I miss them. When trying to think up something else to do with Butternut Squash other than roasting in oil I wondered if it would be possible to cook them minus any fat, that's how this experiment came about.

I'm not the strongest of people so I find prepping Butternut Squash a bit of an ordeal, I also need my knives sharpened. This bad boy took a lot of effort to cut.

butternut squash
As this one was a pretty even width (not much of a bulb shape at the bottom) I just cut it in half and used the bottom.

half a butternut squash
Quite An Effort
I'd always used a knife to remove the peel previously but decided to try my peeler, I didn't think it would be much use against the hard exterior but it worked a treat and proved much easier than using a knife.

peeled butternut squash
Quick and Simple
I then had to cut the Butternut Squash into slices which I found incredibly hard to do but got there eventually.

butternut squash slices
Try To Slice Evenly
Next I spooned out the seeds, finished slicing and placed all the slices on a sheet of grease proof paper.

butternut squash drying out
I covered with a sprinkle of coarse sea salt and left to air dry for 30 minutes. I could have made them into fries at this stage but to be honest, my arms were aching so much from all the effort of cutting, I took a break.

butternut squash fries drying
Butternut Fries Air Drying
I tried to cut them the same size for even cooking time and left them to dry for a further 2 hours. This is by no means fast food!

I couldn't believe just how much water came out of the squash, the grease proof paper was soaked through. I then put the raw fries onto kitchen paper to dry further.

raw butternut squash
Soggy Squash
By the time I had laid all the fries out the paper was wet, my drying techniques weren't working. I then covered the fries with more kitchen paper and started to scratch my head as to why it just wasn't drying out.

butternut squash fries between kitchen paper
Yet More Moisture
I decided to go ahead and experiment anyway. I put a small batch under a hot grill for 20 minutes turning halfway through. They had definitely dried out a little but they were also a bit burnt at the ends. Overall the taste and texture was quite nice, but not the fry effect that I was aiming for.

Next I tried baking some, 200C 10 minutes per side on a non stick tray. These didn't dry out and had no fry like texture and they burnt more than the grilled version. I was getting nowhere fast with the no fat methods.

By this time I had begun to make dinner, the Butternut Squash Fries were due to be served with homemade Sriracha Burgers, problem was, I hadn't gotten even close to crispness.

I gave in to olive oil, though there was a low fat compromise for the overall meal.

I lightly greased a baking sheet and laid the fries out so they were one single layer.

butternut squash fries on a greased baking tray
Gorgeous Colour
I then used an olive oil spray to lightly coat the top of the fries. Usually I'd put Butternut Squash into a baking tray and drizzle the oil over, this method uses way less oil.

I cooked them at 200C for 20 minutes, I didn't get the crispness that I was looking for but they came out lovely regardless.

baked butternut squash fries
Butternut Squash Oven Fries
Your typical baked Butternut Squash but much less fat content. I didn't drain these on kitchen paper but there wasn't any oil on the plate. I'll happily stick to this method and concede that they aren't really 'fries' but that they taste lovely.

Keeping with the lower fat compromise I grilled the Sriracha Burgers instead of frying them, which is my usual method for cooking burgers. They turned out great, recipe post coming tomorrow.

When I'm no longer watching the calories I might give the fries another go, but there will be actual frying involved if I do. I'm not very good at this weight loss diet stuff, it makes being on a gluten free diet feel so easy. 

Must. Stop. Eating..... *sob* Cheese.

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