Thanksgiving 2010 | Steak over Butternut Squash Puree


Guys, I know you’re disappointed, because as you can see, there is no mention of turkey in the title of this post. I know, I know, it’s a crime against the American dream, how could I be so unpatriotic, blah blah blah. We just don’t DO turkey at my house.

Don’t get me wrong, my parents make turkey every year for Thanksgiving, and B’s parents do turkey at theirs. So it’s not as if we’ve never seen a overgrown winged creature on our Thanksgiving table. But when we moved to Denver (and consequently gave up going home for the holiday thanks to exponentially higher airplane tickets) we started our own Thanksgiving tradition. Namely, why on earth would we make an entire 12-pound turkey when there’s only 2 of us to feed? I mean, Brad can put away a surprising amount of food for a lanky white boy (I blame it on growing up fighting over food with 3 older brothers). But given the choice, I’d rather not spend my Thursday night in the hospital after Brad “accidentally” eats 14 pounds of poultry “because it’s just so tasty.”



So in the interest of both our wallet and Brad’s gastro-intestinal health, we forgo the traditional $70-turkey-to-feed-12, and instead choose to spend these few years of YMC (Young Married Couple) Thanksgivings trying out fancy-pants new holiday dishes. Last year, we had salmon poached in red wine, and the year before that, it was cornish game hens. Back in 2006, our first year here in Denver, we had a totally ghetto Thanskgiving, but that’s another story for another post…

This year it’s steak. This is based on a on a dish that B and I had at a local Denver restaurant called 1515. The original dish was steak over butternut squash puree with a roasted cherry tomato confit. While it was undeniably delicious… it was also late spring here in Denver when we had this dish. When fresh cherry tomatoes are definitely NOT in season. I racked my brain trying to come up with a locally-available substitute if I were to serve this for the Thanksgiving meal. I wanted something that would still have the sweetness to play off the gamey steak, and that would have a soft, but still chewy texture, but it had to be an ingredient available in late fall. I think I found the perfect (locally-grown) complement in caramelized onions.



This is the most amazing dish. The butternut squash puree is delicious on it’s own (perhaps a side dish if you’re making turkey for the big day?) The steak is tender, chewy, and the perfect savory complement to the butternut squash puree. The caramelized onions are sweet but not overly so, and they burst with flavor when you bite into them, just like the tomato confit did in the original dish. If you’re hosting a YMC Thanksgiving this year, consider this for your entree… or consider this for a secondary entree if you’re cooking for a huge crowd on the Big Day.

And eventually, when we make it home again for Turkey Day, we will go back to turkey… but for now, we enjoy our non-turkey holiday dishes!



Steak over Butternut Squash Puree with Caramelized Onions

Inspired by 1515 Restaurant
Serves 6


This recipe is easily adaptable to more or less servings – I would budget about 1/2 to 3/4 pound of beef per person (depending on if this is the main dish or a second dish to the turkey) and 1/2 an onion per person. Make the full serving of butternut squash puree because you’ll pretty much want to bathe in it, it’s so delicious.


1 large butternut squash, halved and seeded
2 tablespoons light brown sugar
10 tablespoons olive oil, divided
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
3 sweet yellow onions, sliced into strips
4 pounds top sirloin steak
salt and pepper
baking sheet, cooling rack, cast iron (or oven-safe) frying pan

Prepare the squash. Preheat oven to 400 degrees fahrenheit. Place the two halves of squash on the baking sheet and season with salt and pepper. Sprinkle with brown sugar, drizzle with 2 tablespoons of the olive oil, and crumble the butter over the squash halves. Bake at 400 degrees for about 50 minutes or until the flesh soft, i.e. easily pierced with a knife. Scrape the inside of the squash into the bowl of a food processor/blender, and pulse until the squash is a smooth consistency. (Make ahead: can be prepared up to 2 days in advance; store in the fridge until ready to use, and reheat slowly over medium heat until hot.)

Prepare the caramelized onions. Add 4 of the remaining 8 tablespoons olive oil and the onions to a large saute pan. Toss the onions to coat with oil. Cook the onions over medium-low heat for about 90 minutes, stirring every 15 minutes or more frequently, to prevent the onions from burning to the bottom of the pan. Add a tablespoon of brown sugar if after an hour of cooking, the onions still retain some of their bite. Remove onions from heat when they are dark brown and sweet, approximately 60-90 minutes. (Make ahead: can be prepared up to 2 days in advance; store in the fridge until ready to use, and reheat slowly over medium heat until hot.)

Prepare steak and assemble. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees, and let the oven sit at 325 for at least 20 minutes before starting the beef (to let the oven get good and hot). Season both sides of the steak with salt and pepper. Place a cooling rack on top of a baking sheet, and place the seasoned steak on top of the cooking rack. Bake the steak for 10 minutes, or until the steak starts to feel rare, using the finger test.

Meanwhile, while the steak is baking, add the remaining 4 tablespoons of olive oil to the frying pan, and heat over medium-high heat. As soon as the steak is done in the oven, use tongs to transfer the steak to the hot frying pan. Cook about 2 minute on one side of the steak, then flip and cook another 1 minute on the reverse side. Refrain from moving the steak in the pan; you want to get a good sear on the steak. Remove from heat and let cool for 10 minutes, before slicing into 1/4 inch strips against the grain.

Spread the butternut squash puree down the middle of a serving dish, and place slices of beef over the top. Top with a line of hot caramelized onions down the middle of the steak. Serve.



Thanksgiving Background Music Recommendation of the Day – in our house, we like a constant stream of mellow background music to enjoy along with our holiday festivities. Here is a week of safe-for-childrens’-ears, no-curse-words-to-creep-out-Grandma, soft tunes to accompany your turkey and mashed potatoes. (And not one of my recommendations will be a washed-up-musician’s rendering of Christmas hits, I promise.)


James Vincent Mcmorrow / Early in the Morning

I’ve mentioned JVM before on the blog, but I really can’t get enough of his folk-ish pop rock. It won’t upset Grandma, I promise… she might even have a crush on him by the end of the night.




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15 thoughts on “Thanksgiving 2010 | Steak over Butternut Squash Puree

  1. What I wouldn’t give for a YMC Thanksgiving…..well, if by YMC you mean, still sorta young married peeps with kids.

    I confess– I hate the holidays. Not the celebrations, or the food (by gawd the FOOD) but the forced familial get togethers with peeps we rarely see or talk to. Ugh.

    I would SOOOO rather it just be me, J and the Littles making our own day, with dishes like this. Which, btw, looks amazing. I am not big on squash but this looks super delish.

    I shall just live vicariously through you and B. ;)

  2. Looks utterly delicious! I always hated turkey until I got a fabulous Kelly Bronze (would you get them in the States?) But they are impossible to get now we have moved to a city, hundreds of miles away, so I’m with you – I’d take the steak! And yes, I suppose a turkey would be ridiculous for the two of… no matter how greedy we are.

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  5. It does sound so good! When Matt & I lived in San Francisco we had Thanksgiving for two as well but ended up roasting just a turkey breast…we couldn’t give up the leftovers ;)

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