Kathryn (kathrynt) wrote,

Arizona "Lasagna"

I would love to come up with a better name for this. Shoot me your suggestions in the comments.

This recipe was borne of my purchase of four enormous winter squashes, the largest being probably 15 pounds, for a dollar each at our local fruit and vegetable stand's closeout sale in the fall. With that much winter squash in the pantry, I've had quite the task coming up with recipes to use it -- particularly considering that my husband doesn't really like winter squash. So he'll eat it, but the bar needs to be set pretty high. The other influencing factor was the so-called Three Sisters of the Native American tribes of the southwest: corn, beans, and winter squash. You plant all three of them together in hills, and then the beans nitrate the soil, the corn stalks support the beans, and the squash leaves spread out and shade the soil, preventing moisture loss. This idea appeals to me, and I wanted to use all three of them together in one dish. If cutting into an enormous winter squash seems an onerous task, do what I do: whale into the squash with your longest, sharpest knife, embedding it in the rind, and then tap the knife with a tenderizing mallet (or a plain old hammer) to split the squash in two. Or just pop it into the oven whole, roast it for an hour or two until it collapses in on itself, and separate the seeds and pulp from the meat afterwards.

This is still in the oven; I haven't tried it yet. By one view, it's an all-day affair to prepare, but the long things are unattended and can be done in advance, so it's really not that bad. It makes about 12 servings.

Ingredients:
10 6" corn tortillas
1 pound of dry black beans, or 3 14.5 oz cans of cooked beans
2 pounds of pork shoulder (or boneless spare ribs, or pork blade steaks)
1 can of diced roasted mild green chiles
1 can of Ro-Tel, or 1 can of petite-cut tomatoes + a second can of green chiles, or a can of chipotle in adobo if you like things spicier
2 small, 1 medium, or 1/2 or so large winter squash -- you're looking for maybe 3.5 to 4 pounds total
1/2 to 1 pound shredded cheese; monterey jack, pepper jack, cheddar, or a combination thereof
1 tsp salt
2-3 tsp adobo seasoning, or Penzey's Arizona Dreaming blend

1. If you're using dry beans, cook them however you like; I use the 90 minute no soak method.
2. Cut open the squash (or don't, see above) and roast it at 350 degrees for 1-2 hours, or until soft.
3. Combine the pork shoulder with 1 can of the green chiles, about a half a cup of water, and the salt in a 2 quart dutch oven or stovetop-safe casserole. Bring to a boil on the stove top, then cook in a 250 degree oven for two to three hours until it's falling apart. (If you do the 90 minute beans, you can have them in the oven at the same time.) Shred it with two forks. If there's a lot of liquid in the pot when you're done, bring it back to a boil on the stove and stir briskly until the excess liquid has boiled off.
4. Drain the beans, and combine with the Ro-tel (or whatever) and the adobo or Arizona Dreaming.
5. Remove the flesh of the squash from the rind, and puree or mash it.
6. Cut 8 of the tortillas in half, then in strips crossways about 3/4 to 1 inch wide.
7. Butter a 9x13" baking dish or lasagna pan.
8. Layer the ingredients in this order: a layer of tortilla strips, then a thin layer of beans, a thin layer of pork shreds, a thin layer of squash puree, and top with cheese. Aim for 2 complete iterations of these layers.
9. Slice the two remaining tortillas into shreds, maybe an eighth of an inch by an inch and a half, and sprinkle over the top layer of cheese.
10. Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes, or until the cheese is bubbly.

Now, that looks like an insane amount of effort, but in my case, I had half the squash already roasted and separated from the rind in the freezer, so all I had to do was thaw and puree that. I used canned beans, and I threw the pork into the oven before I took Lillian to a birthday party, and just let it burble away. I'll be interested to see how it turns out; it certainly smells fantastic.
Tags: cooking, food, recipes
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