Wood-Grilled Butternut Squash Puree

This recipe is adapted from The New Native American Cuisine by Marian Betancourt with the chefs from Kai restaurant. At Kai, the dish is served over a wild boar bacon and Rio Zape bean cake and garnished with a puff of cotton candy, which represents the cotton harvest of the Pima tribe. The purée makes a lovely, smoky soup on its own.
Photography By Heather Gill | September 15, 2009


1. Place wet mesquite chips on a hot gas grill and allow to cook until smoke begins to emerge from the chips. Place the squash slices on the grill and cook a few minutes on each side to get grill marks and a smoky flavor. Set aside. (Note: The squash may also be prepared in a smoker; follow the instructions for your equipment.)

2. In a large pot, sauté the onion, celery, carrots, garlic cloves and shallots in oil. Add the chiles to the pot along with the grilled squash. Add the chicken stock and simmer until the squash is cooked through, about 10 minutes. Put into a blender and purée, or use a stick blender in the pot. Strain the mixture through a fine sieve back into the pot and add the heavy cream, lime juice, salt and pepper to taste.

3. To serve, generously sprinkle each serving with the chile powder. A sweet Riesling pairs well with the dish and balances the smokiness of the squash.

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  • 2 cups mesquite chips, soaked in water
  • 2–3 small to medium butternut squashes, peeled and cut into 1-inch slices
  • ½ yellow onion, sliced
  • 1½ stalks celery, roughly chopped
  • 2 carrots, peeled and roughly chopped
  • 7 cloves garlic, peeled
  • 3 shallots, sliced
  • 1–2 tablespoons canola oil
  • 1–2 small dried red chiles, seeded and soaked (1 teaspoon paprika may be substituted)
  • 3 cups chicken stock
  • 1 pint heavy cream
  • ½ lime, juiced
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • ½ tablespoon chile powder (aji amarillo if available)
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