If you’re looking for a festive and seasonal appetizer for your holiday feasts, try Chef Billy Parisi’s Sausage and Mushroom Stuffed Acorn Squash – simple and loaded with flavor.
I often say I love summer produce the best with its abundance of vine fruits and vegetables, until I sink my teeth into root winter vegetables like this acorn squash – stuffed with sausage and mushrooms. Whether it’s that delicious savory nutty flavor from fall squashes or the heartiness of root vegetables, there’s something about winter produce that really has helped me appreciate the season. Regardless of which seasonal produce you prefer, there is no doubt that mushrooms can help enhance the flavor. The best part about this recipe is that you could use shiitake mushrooms, portabella mushrooms or buttons, like I did, and it will still be delicious due to mushrooms’ versatility.
Stuffing acorn squashes is nothing new, but changing up the stuffing to your desire is. I’ve seen meat sauces with meatballs, ground turkey, you name it! I wanted to create something that represented fall with tons of balanced flavor. The combo I came up with is Italian sausage, apples, brown rice, finely minced button mushrooms, bread crumbs and herbs. You’ve got salty from the sausage, savory from the herbs, a little sweet and tart from the apples and, of course, umami from the mushrooms. Not to mention all of that goodness is stuffed up in an acorn squash half and baked in a brown sage butter sauce.
When finely mincing the mushrooms, you can either do it with a knife or put them in a food processor and process until they are to the minced consistency. I prefer the latter, as it saves a ton of time so you can focus on everything else. Once the mushrooms are finely minced, mix them in a bowl with the other ingredients. Now before you stuff up the squash, be sure to scoop out the seeds and season the inside with salt and pepper.
Once they were stuffed up, I added a few more panko crumbs to the top and then off to the oven. While they were baking, I cooked some butter in a small pot until the milk fats were cooked off and turned the butter slightly brown, making brown butter. Browning butter makes for a really tasty nutty flavor which I thought would be perfect to drizzle on top of the stuffed squash. Once the butter is brown, I seasoned it with salt and pepper and added in some fresh chopped sage. Super delicious!! This Sausage and Mushroom Stuffed Acorn Squash with Brown Sage Butter is as simple as it gets and is absolutely loaded with flavor!!
Sausage and Mushroom Stuffed Acorn Squash with Brown Sage Butter Recipe
1 pint domestic mushrooms, brushed free of any dirt
1 pound loose Italian sausage
2 cups cooked brown rice
1 peeled and small diced Granny Smith apple
1 peeled and small diced Fuji apple
¾ cup panko bread crumbs + more to top off
3 teaspoons chopped fresh sage
1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme
4 acorn squash cut in half, seeds removed and seasoned
1 stick unsalted butter
Kosher salt and fresh cracked pepper to taste
1. Preheat the oven to 375°.
2. Using a knife or food processor, finely mince the mushrooms to match the consistency of the sausage.
3. Add the mushrooms to a bowl and mix with the sausage, rice, apples, ¾ cup of panko bread crumbs, 1 teaspoon of sage, 1 teaspoon of thyme, salt and pepper until combined.
4. Place the squash skin side down on a sheet tray lined with parchment paper and season the inside with salt and pepper. Evenly divide the sausage-mushroom mixture and stuff it into the center of the acorn squash. Sprinkle on remaining bread crumbs and bake in the oven at 375° for 30 to 35 minutes or until the tops are lightly browned and the sausage is cooked through out.
5. In a small pot, add the butter and cook over low heat until the milk fat solids are cooked and the butter begins to turn light brown. Remove from the heat, season with salt, pepper and remaining sage and drizzle it over the cooked stuffed squash. Enjoy!