I am a lover of all things maple. When others were enjoying their PB&J sandwiches as kids; mine were always PB&MS – Peanut Butter and Maple Syrup. Haven’t tried it? Go. Now! I STILL love it to this day (chips on the side)! Fast forward a couple of years (yes, that was supposed to make you chuckle) and nothing has changed, well, except that the maple syrup of my youth really wasn’t and now that I know the difference I’m even more rabid in my love and devotion. Yes, I have been known to swallow a spoonful all by itself, without excuse of a cold or sore throat to cover my tracks. I mean I LOVE it. It was absolutely perfect for this Maple Roasted Butternut Squash Risotto with Bacon and Brown Butter Sage Topping.
So, when asked by the powers that be at Crown Maple Syrup if I would like to try my hand at using their product in a sweet and savory way for their Tap to Table Crown Maple Challenge (#TaptoTable) I was game. I’ve done it before. Witness my Maple Bourbon Bacon (you wish you could witness it for real…it is such an ideal mix of savory and sweet!), Maple Bacon Biscuits, Maple Bacon Cupcakes and just recently this divine Maple Bourbon and Balsamic Caramel Sauce. Wow…are you seeing the trend I’m seeing? I obviously REALLY like it paired with bacon…and bourbon. No wonder my book is going to be titled Maple Bacon Bourbon EVERYTHING? (Just kidding, no book). I received samples of Light, Medium and Dark Amber syrups; all certified organic and at their suggestion decided to use the Medium Amber for this dish. I thought it was perfect. This was a great blend of sweet and savory; bites of maple roasted squash mingled with salty bacon and just right risotto and I know my taste testing might have been a bit more than actually required. You know, it was ALL about quality control!
Challenged to combine sweet and savory is almost too simple when working with butternut squash; it’s simply meant for pairing with a bit of sweet. Roasted with a combination of olive oil and maple syrup resulted in cubes of deliciousness…adding just a hint of syrup to the butter and crispy sage topping was a good call; I seriously could have eaten that topping with a spoon. OK, maybe I did; no judging allowed. Using the last of the sage was perfect too; it’s just about ready to call it quits for the year and the leaves, while not as pretty as when it’s thriving, made for perfect fried sage. If you’ve not tried using fresh sage, you must. It’s a super hardy plant and we always have a ton of fresh sage available for our Thanksgiving dishes and can harvest some for Christmas as well…the difference in taste between dried and fresh is pronounced enough I don’t even consider them equal!
In our home, Christmas is not the same level of food craziness as Thanksgiving. For as long as I can remember I wanted the day focused on my family spending time together; taking our time to open gifts, enjoying a leisurely breakfast and then a day of movies and Scrabble (OK, my girls did not LOVE that as much as I did!). I wanted good food but not something that I had to attend to all day. Nothing about that has changed and this dish was perfect with a salad and an easy and tasty ham sandwich on the side. I enjoyed my holiday dinner this year with my friend Abbe and her husband Ed; you should go check out Abbe’s blog; everything she made was delicious and I hope to re-create some of her snacks soon…that crunchy Chex mix with the unexpected flavors tops the list. I could have eaten the whole bowl; shhh, don’t tell but maybe I did?
I loved this syrup. Available primarily in syrup making country (northeast US), it can also be purchased online and at select stores around the country. Sure…get some for yourself but also note the great gift ideas. Let me know if you need my address. 🙂
I was provided samples of Crown Maple Sugar and Syrups but all commentary is my own.