It’s Thanksgiving, y’all! And what does that mean? Squash casserole, people. Oh yes.
Today I had the great pleasure of preparing my Granny’s squash casserole with the master herself.
This lovely young woman is the mother of my mom. She lives in the big city of Chapel Hill, TN, and she makes the best dern squash casserole on the planet. I’ve been eating it since I could eat. It’s simply heaven.
I can’t share this recipe without also sharing this story. While Granny is stellar at preparing this dish, she has proven to be a bit lax when explaining or documenting the recipe. The first step on her recipe card states: “Cook squash with a little onion.” So, when I first attempted this squash casserole, brainless neophyte that I am, I interpreted this as: “Saute squash and onion with olive oil.”
Granny found this endlessly entertaining when I called to ask her why my batch didn’t turn out as good as hers.
“Why, I thought everyone knew ‘cook’ meant ‘boil’! Mercy.”
One day I’ll learn.
So I determined that, this Thanksgiving, we would make it together.
We started by chopping the squash.
Granny throws them straight into a large pot.
(She also insists that you use a matching color colander. Otherwise it simply won’t taste right.)
Big chunks are fine. They’ll cook down nice.
Then we added a chopped onion. The onion pieces should be a little smaller than the squash chunks. (Maybe that’s what Granny meant by “little onion”?) And cover it all with water.
We boiled it until the squash is fork tender. Took about 20 minutes.
When tender, we drained the water, and used a potato masher to squish the squash.
[Update: This will release more water from the squash, so I have found it’s best to drain it again so the final dish isn’t too wet. The best tool for this is (are you ready?) a turkey baster! It gets right down in there and sucks up the water for ya. But if you don’t have a baster, a good old spoon and some patience will do the trick.]
From there, we just add the rest of our ingredients! Butter, crushed saltines, eggs, sour cream (Granny says lite is okay!), cheese (Granny says lite is not okay). Season liberally with salt and pepper.
Mash it up, mash it up!
Pour into a casserole dish, and top with more crushed saltines.
By the way, if you don’t have saltines, you could use panko or regular breadcrumbs – about a cup or so.
Then it goes into a 350 degree F oven and bake until golden and bubbly, about 30 minutes.
Ah…my favorite childhood dish. And quite possibly my favorite adulthood dish as well. It’s just perfect.
Here’s the quick-and-dirty!
- 8 yellow squash
- 1 small yellow onion
- 2 eggs, whisked
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 2 tablespoons sour cream
- 1 cup cheddar cheese
- 1/2 sleeve saltine crackers (plus more for topping)
- Salt and pepper, to taste
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
- Chop squash and onion, and add to large pot. Cover with water, cover and bring to a boil. Cook until squash is tender, about 20 minutes.
- Drain water. Mash squash and onions using a potato masher. Drain water again with a turkey baster or spoon.
- In same pot, add remaining ingredients. Mash.
- Season liberally with salt and pepper. Taste and adjust amounts as needed.
- Pour squash mixture into a casserole dish. Top with more crushed saltines.
- Bake at 350 degrees F for 30 minutes or until golden and bubbly.
- You can substitute a cup of panko or regular breadcrumbs for the saltines, depending on what you have on-hand. Tastes about the same! Just make sure to use unseasoned.