African Squash Fritters with Maple Syrup and Parmesan

  • Servings: 6 people
  • Prep time: ~ 20 minutes
  • Cook time: ~ 1 hour, 15 minutes
squash-fritters-with-maple-syrup-and-parmesan-cheese

Ingredients

  • 1 African squash
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 egg, whisked then halved
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1 cup Parmesan shavings
  • 1/2 teaspoon Back to Organic Lemon Twist, more to taste
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/8 cup maple syrup

2014 James Beard Foundation Semifinalist, Todd Ginsberg, executive chef of The General Muir and creator of the famous pastrami cheeseburger and “perfect” rueben sandwich is also wowing veggie lovers with his beet reuben and scrumptious salads.  This fall he is serving a roasted African squash salad with crisp apples, celery, faro, gruyere cheese, and hazelnuts.

African squash is very similar to butternut squash but has more sugar and less fibrous strands creating a creamy texture; it can be as smooth as baby food. This variety of squash is loved by many local chefs and can be found on the menu at Canoe, The General Muir and many other restaurants in Atlanta during the cooler months.  You can find African squash at the Morningside Market or possibly at your local farmers market.  I doubt you will find it at your supermarket.  Use butternut squash if you cannot locate some for this fritter recipe.

African-Squash

Todd provided many amazing tips during his demo. Even the experienced cooks in the crowd were in awe with his suggestions. The one that made many jaws drop was how to remove the squash meat from the skin.  Instead of spooning the meat out of the shell, all you need to do is grab a clean roasting rack, place the squash face down with the skin side up, and press the meat through the roasting rack leaving the skin on top of the rack.  Now that trick will save you some time if you are cooking a lot of squash or just learning how to roast pumpkins and other thick skin vegetables.

pushing-squash-through-a-cooling-or-baking-rack

We also learned about the correlation of sugar and the batter color when deep frying.  If there is too much sugar in the dough, then the batter browns too quickly leaving a burnt outside and “raw” inside.  Tempura is usually a very light color batter but if you add a touch of honey, it will turn a golden brown.

I typically roast squash with some coconut or olive oil, maple syrup, a little nutmeg and one of my Back to Organic gourmet salts but for this recipe I would only oil the flesh.  If you add the maple syrup, your fritters may burn due to the extra sugar.  You can drizzle maple syrup over the extra squash afterwards and serve as a side dish or make some muffins.

If you are not comfortable frying, then you can make squash pancakes using this recipe but only add 3/4 teaspoon of baking powder so they do not puff up on you.  The batter can be made several hours ahead of time and refrigerated. It is not recommended to make the batter and freeze it.  I have not made these pancakes so let me know when you try it and if you add the parmesan cheese in the batter.

Directions

1) Roast the Squash- Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Cut the top off the squash then slice it lengthwise in half.  Use a spoon to scrape out the seeds. Place seeds in a bowl to toast later.  Rub 1 tablespoon of coconut or olive oil on the meat and place the squash face down, skin side up. Roast in the oven for 45 minutes to an hour. When your finger presses into the flesh easily, it is done.  Remove from oven and cool slightly.  Scrape out the meat using a spoon or the technique mentioned above. Disregard the skin. Place the meat in a food processor to purée. You may need to scrape down the sides three or four times. Do not add any liquid. Refrigerate or freeze if you do not use right away.

African-Squash-ready-to-roast

2) Make the Batter- Crack open an egg into a small bowl and whisk. In a medium size bowl, whisk 1 pint of squash and half of the egg mixture together. (One egg weighs about 50 grams so add 25 grams.)  Add 1 cup of whole milk and mix together.  In another medium bowl, mix together the 1/4 cup of flour and 1 tablespoon of baking powder.  Slowly add half of the wet ingredients into the dry. Mix.  Add 1/2 teaspoon of Back to Organic Lemon Twist Himalayan and 1/4 teaspoon black cracked pepper and mix.  Add the rest of the wet ingredients and mix gently.  The batter should be thick.  Add more flour if needed.  Do not overmix or more gluten chains will form making the batter tough and dense.  Now fold in the Parmesan cheese.

squash-fritter-batter-consistency

3) Cook the Fritters- Fill canola oil (buy Non GMO) about a quarter up the sides of a TALL POT and heat the oil to 350 degrees. Place one fritter into the oil and cook for 1.5 minutes.  Deep fry all the fritters. Place on a large platter and add several pinches of salt over top to season the oil.  I recommend Back to Organic Hand Harvested Fleur de Sel, Lemon Twist or Margarita Himalayan.

Tip: If the batter sinks, the oil is too cool.  If the batter cooks too fast, then the oil is too hot and the inside will not be cooked through.

frying-squash-fritters

4) Plate- Place the fritters on a small plate. Drizzle maple syrup over top. Use a microplane to create thin shavings of Parmesan to layer over the maple syrup. Enjoy while warm.

squash-fritters

Fun Facts

  • The “African squash” seeds were brought to Georgia by a man named Bobby Burns who served in the Peace Corps during the 1980′s. Burns started growing these seeds from Zaire, Africa at Koinonia Farm in Americus.  In the living room of Ann Brewer, one of the founders of Georgia Grown there was much debate over the name of these seeds; since most people cannot spell Zaire and the name is not as catchy, the squash variety was finally named African Squash.
  • Todd Ginsberg and his The General Muir partners, Shelley Sweet and Jennifer and Ben Johnson, also of West Egg, will open a second Krog Street Market restaurant later this year. Called Yalla, the contemporary Israeli restaurant will sit right next to their first announced KSM concept, sandwich shop Fred’s Meat & Bread.The restaurant will offer counter service and share communal seating with the other Krog Street Market restaurants, reports the AJC. “We’ll have different salads and pickles, kebabs, falalfel, schwarma, and tons of vegetables,” says Ginsberg. Head baker Rob Alexander will make pita and other flatbreads daily for sandwiches like sabich. Eater Atlanta

Todd-Ginsberg-scraping-out-squash-seeds

References:
Photos taken at the Morningside Market provided by TC Brodnax.
Recipe from Todd Ginsberg.

 

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Recipe by Back To Organic at http://backtoorganic.com/african-squash-fritters-with-maple-syrup-and-parmesan/