Distinction’s Recipe of the Day

Southern Distinction presents a new recipe every day from one of our sponsored restaurants of the week! This week we present Girasoles from Watkinsville, Ga. along with other sponsors including Striplings General Store, Chappelle Gallery, Hillside Orchards, Fire & Flavor, The Veggie Patch, and The Olive Basket.

Acorn Squash Stuffed with Bacon Bread Pudding

By Girasoles & Chappelle Gallery

Ingredients

Squash Ingredients

.3 Medium acorn squash, about 2 lbs. each
¼ tsp. salt
¼ tsp. freshly ground black pepper
2 Tbsp. Herbs de Provence Olive Oil
(The Olive Basket)

Bread Pudding Ingredients

4 slices peppered bacon, cut crosswise into ¼ inch-wide
strips, about ½ cup (Striplings General Store)
¼ lb. mild Sausage (Striplings General Store)
1 Medium Vidalia onion, finely diced (1 cup)
5 Mushrooms chopped fine
2 Tbsp. unsalted butter
1 Tbsp. chopped fresh herbs, such as parsley, thyme,
basil, or oregano (The Veggie Patch)
2 eggs
¾ cup buttermilk
½ cup plus 2 Tbsp heavy cream
¼ tsp. salt
¼ tsp. freshly ground black pepper
3 cups cubed cheese bread mini loaf
(Hillside Orchard Farms)
6 Tbsp. crumbled blue cheese
Top with a dabble of Mango Chutney
(Hillside Orchard Farms)

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Remove the stems from the squash. Cut each squash in half crosswise and scoop out the seeds with a spoon and discard. Cut a sliver off the squash bottoms so they will sit flat.
  3. Place the squash halves, hollowed side up, in a baking dish large enough to hold them.
  4. Sprinkle the insides of the squash with salt and pepper and place a ¼ tsp. of Herbs de Provence olive oil in the center of each.
  5. Pick up the squash and rotate the oil into the inner cavity of the squash.
  6. Pour ½ cup water into the dish around the squash.
  7. Cover the baking dish tightly with aluminum foil and bake until the squash are tender when you insert a small, sharp knife into the flesh.
  8. Remove from the oven and carefully pour off the water. Keep the squash in the baking dish and maintain the oven temperature while you prepare the stuffing.
  9. To make the bread pudding, cook the bacon and sausage in a large heavy skillet over medium high heat until it begins to brown, about 3 minutes.
  10. Remove the bacon and sausage and let it drain on paper towels, then crumble the bacon and set aside. Drain all but 2 teaspoons of the bacon drippings into the skillet.
  11. Add the onion and mushrooms to the skillet and cook, stirring often, until the onion is translucent, about 4 minutes. Then stir in the butter until melted and add the herbs to the melted butter.
  12. Place the eggs, buttermilk, cream, salt, and pepper in a large bowl and whisk until the mixture is smooth and blended.
  13. Stir in the onion mixture, bacon, and bread cubes and let stand for 10 minutes to allow the bread to absorb the custard mixture, stirring occasionally.
  14. Spoon the bread mixture into the partially baked squash shells, dividing evenly.
  15. Sprinkle 1 tablespoon of the blue cheese over each filled squash.
  16. Cover the baking dish with foil and bake until the filling is just set, about 25 minutes. Uncover and bake until browned on top, about 15 minutes.

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Girasoles (pronounced here-ah-SO-lays), a small Mexican-Mediterranean fusion restaurant in Watkinsville, GA, about 10 miles outside of Athens, is serving up innovative meals with high-quality ingredients. Owner Chef Jose Zambrano finds ways to ingrain his restaurant firmly in this small community of 2,000 people, drawing in loyal customers with not only his delicious menu, but also an overwhelming sense of hospitality. Chef Zambrano’s education in food was entirely hands on, at the sides of some of the best chefs in California. Schooled primarily in the French tradition, Chef Zambrano’s talents led him to work for the Hilton Hotel chain, first in Newport Beach, and later in Beverly Hills. From there, he moved to Georgia to open his first restaurant. Chef Zambrano’s firm belief in using only the freshest possible ingredients also aligns his restaurant with a current trend toward using the best of what is local and in season. “Everything here is fresh. We don’t even have a microwave in this restaurant. We never use processed vegetables or ingredients.” For Chef Zambrano, extending so much hospitality to his guests is more than a business trend; it is a basic philosophy and a way of keeping his business footing in the community, even as the economy tightens belts for both the restaurateur and the consumer.

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