Kansas City lost many culinary favorites over the past few years—Bluestem, Chai Shai, and The American are just a few. But from the ashes, new life is springing. Chef Andrew Longres, an alum of Bluestem and most recently the executive chef at The American Restaurant, is excited to open his signature restaurant, Acre, in Parkville in early 2022.
While we eagerly await the arrival of Acre, Longres is kindly sharing an autumnal side typical of his seasonally focused cuisine. He serves this delicious fall dish at family gatherings. The recipe melds sweet, malty grilled and roasted squash with the fat and saltiness of the country ham, and the tartness and sweetness of the cranberries.
Embered Delicata Squash with Country Ham and Honey-Poached Cranberries
Makes 8 servings
- 5 pounds (approximately 3 Delicata squash), available in specialty grocery stores, do not peel
- 2 tablespoons olive oil, or canola oil
- Sea salt, to taste
- 1 teaspoon red chili flakes
- 2 teaspoons maple syrup
- 10 grinds or 1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
- 1 pound fresh cranberries
- 1 1/3 cup raw unfiltered honey
- 2 sprigs fresh thyme
- 10 slices Burgers Country Ham, prosciutto is a good substitution
- 1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
For the squash: Start a grill and preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
Using a sharp knife remove root and end of the squash and discard. Slice the squash into slices 1 to 1½ inches in thickness. Scoop out the seeds in each of the rings and save seeds to toast for use at a later date. Place the squash rings in a large mixing bowl and toss until evenly covered with olive oil, salt, chili flakes, maple syrup, and black pepper.
Place squash rings on the grill racks to develop a char on both sides then remove from primary grates and transfer to the cooler top grates to finish cooking at a lower temperature. You may instead remove the squash from the grill and finish in the oven. The squash is cooked through when the center is fork-tender. Drizzle red wine vinegar over squash. This is very important to balance the flavors once the squash cools.
For the cranberries: Place honey in a small saucepan and bring to a simmer over low heat on the stove.
Place the fresh cranberries on a baking sheet and sort out any blemished cranberries. Place the sorted cranberries in a glass baking dish with a lid. Pour the warm honey over the cranberries, add the thyme sprig and cover with the lid and allow mixture to come to room temperature.
Once cranberries are cooled, season with fine sea salt and white wine vinegar. The honey mixture may be stored in the refrigerator for up to one month. Other uses: Stir honey into a cup of tea or use as a finishing glaze on pork chops.
To plate: Place warm squash on a platter. Place the sliced country ham on top of the squash. Top the ham and squash with the cranberries (they will float to the top, so give them a stir) and drizzle with the honey. Add another thyme sprig and season with a sprinkle of sea salt and olive oil to finish.