The trouble with butternut squash at the Thanksgiving table is that we tend to be pretty unimaginative in how we prepare it. As such, the results often are fairly lackluster.
It’s understandable how it happens. With all the attention given to buttery mashed potatoes, savory stuffing, doughy dinner rolls, tartly sweet cranberry sauce and of course the all-important turkey and gravy, butternut (and other winter squashes) tends to suffer from afterthought syndrome.
Most people just steam and mash it, giving it the appearance — but little of the appeal — of mashed potatoes. Others go for roasting, a method I generally favor. But roasting can be hit or miss depending on the quality of the squash and how well it caramelizes in the oven. And that last part requires reasonably high heat, something hard to deliver when so many other foods are competing for oven time.
So I decided to devise a recipe that effortlessly delivers tons of flavor. The effortless part is key. Because while it’s nice to talk about wanting to up the butternut ante, it’s another to find the time to deliver it in the midst of making one of the year’s most anticipated meals.
To get those results, I turned to a relatively new ingredient — powdered peanut butter. It came on the market several years ago, but only now is getting any attention. It is exactly as it sounds — peanut butter that has had nearly all of the fat extracted.
The resulting fine powder has deep, rich peanut flavor, but can be used in ways conventional peanut butter cannot, such as in dry spice rubs.
The most common brand of powdered peanut butter is PB2. It’s available in a variety of flavors (including chocolate!), but for most savory recipes you’ll obviously want to stick with plain.