Attention, class: Buttercup 101 is now in session.

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We luh-luh-loved this Curried Chicken Stew with Squash and Cashews! Quick, easy and oh so delicious. Sweet, deeply colored buttercup and kabocha squash are the top choices for this aromatic stew. Or as in our case, use a sweet potato (as suggested) if you can’t find either of these squashes.

I thought “buttercup” might have been a typo, because I’ve cooked with butternut many times, but have never heard of, or seen, a buttercup squash. So I asked Russ to Google it while we were in the grocery store, and sure enough, it’s the real deal. Live and learn, right?

Buttercup squash is a winter squash belonging to the family Cucurbitaceae (how’s that for a word??) Not to be confused with its cousin, the butternut squash, the squat green buttercup takes its name from its shape, which some say resembles an upside-down acorn with an undersized cap. The flavor of the buttercup squash’s flesh is sweet and nutty, with a creamy consistency more in line with that of a baked sweet potato than a pumpkin.

I usually buy the “lite” version of coconut milk for my recipes, but in this case make sure you get the regular and not the lite version, which will not have the necessary thickened cream at the top of the can.

Fine Cooking suggests serving with jasmine rice, but we had some leftover bean thread noodles which made a perfect bed to ladle the stew over.

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Chicken cut into 1/4″ slices, 1/2″ onion wedges, and 3/4″ sweet potato are prepped for cooking.

Ingredients

  • 1 13-1/2-oz. can coconut milk, unstirred
  • 2 Tbs. Thai red curry paste
  • 3 Tbs. fish sauce
  • 2 Tbs. packed light brown sugar
  • 1 lb. peeled buttercup or unpeeled kabocha squash, seeded and cut into 1-1/4-inch pieces
  • 1/2 cup salted cashews
  • 1 lb. boneless, skinless chicken breast halves, cut crosswise into 1/4-inch-thick slices
  • Kosher salt
  • 1 small yellow onion, cut into 1/2-inch wedges
  • 2/3 cup torn fresh basil leaves

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The Thai red curry paste and coconut cream are added to the sauce pan.

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The curry paste and coconut cream are whisked together.

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After about 5 minutes, the curry paste and coconut cream start to darken.

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The squash (or sweet potato) are added to the curry mixture with fish sauce, brown sugar, and water.

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Finally the onion wedges and chicken slices get added to the pot.

Directions

  1. Measure 3 Tbs. of the thickened cream from the coconut milk and put it in a 6-quart pot. Whisk in the curry paste and cook over medium-high heat, whisking frequently, until the mixture is fragrant and slightly darker, about 5 minutes.
  2. Stir the coconut cream and milk remaining in the can until well combined and add to the pot along with the fish sauce, brown sugar, and 1 cup water; whisk until combined. Bring to a simmer and add the squash.
  3. Partially cover, turn the heat down to medium, and continue simmering, stirring occasionally, until the squash is almost tender, 8 to 12 minutes.
  4. Meanwhile, toast the cashews in a small skillet over medium-high heat, stirring frequently, until dark in spots, about 4 minutes. Set aside.
  5. Season the chicken with salt and add it and the onion to the pot, stirring gently to separate the chicken pieces. Return to a simmer, partially cover, and cook, stirring occasionally, until the chicken is cooked through and the squash is tender, about 5 minutes. Stir in the cashews and basil and serve.

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By Dawn Yanagihara-Mitchell from Fine Cooking

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