A side dish that I haven’t made in a long time, mashed potatoes and squash is a good partner for grilled, roasted and fried meat or fish. With Christmas coming and most people are already planning their Christmas dinner menus, I thought I’d update this August 22, 2006 entry with a few tips on a making a creamy mashed potatoes and squash dish.
(That’s adobo, corned beef style on the plate with the mashed potatoes and squash.)
First of all, from experience, it appears that not all squash are created equal. Of course, there are different varieties of squash but, in the Philippines, there are only the squat round ones. Other varieties are rare (although they do make a pronounced appearance around Thanksgiving which Filipinos don’t traditionally celebrate) and very pricey. In appearance, our native squash resembles the North American acorn squash, a winter squash, the most.
So, I’m talking here of the squat round squash that are available all year ’round in the markets. If you notice, some of them are paler than others. But it seems that the color tells something about the texture of the squash. The deeper and more orange-y the color, the creamier the squash. If you’re planning to make this mashed potatoes and squash dish, I suggest you get the squash with the deepest yellow-orange color and combine them with starchy (as against waxy) potatoes.
First, if you use more squash than potatoes (as I usually do), you’ll have to use very little milk or cream. Squash is very watery and turns more mushy than potatoes after cooking. So, if you want your mashed potatoes and squash to hold their shape rather than tumble into a flat mush, add milk little by little and use much less than you would if you were making mashed potatoes.
Second, if you’re boiling the potatoes and squash in one pan, allow the potatoes to cook in the boiling water for about 10 minutes before adding the squash as they require a shorter cooking time than potatoes. That way, they will cook at the same time.
Third, the addition of herbs and spices (like garlic, onion and parsley) is entirely optional. Even without them, the mashed potatoes and squash will still taste delicious. Just don’t scrimp on the butter, salt and pepper. The recipe on page two includes the onion and garlic. If you don’t want to use them, there is no need to melt the butter in a pan. Just add to the bowl with the drained potatoes and squash and let the butter melt while you mash the vegetables.
Cut off the skin of the squash and scoop out the seeds. Cut into wedges.
Peel the potatoes (or not) and cut into wedges.
Place the vegetables in a large cooking pan and add about 2 cups of water. Simmer, preferably with ham or meat bones, for 20 to 30 minutes or until very tender. There should be very little liquid by the time the vegetables are done.
While the vegetables simmer, melt the butter in a small saucepan. Add the minced garlic and chopped onion and cook gently until soft. Keep warm.
Drain the squash and potatoes, place in a large bowl and mash with a fork or a potato masher. Add the garlic and onion, with the butter, and season with salt and pepper. Stir until blended. Pour in the milk, little by little, stirring to combine. Stop adding milk once you have reached the desired consistency which, ideally, means soft but still able to hold shape.