What is it?
This popular New England squash usually has a gorgeous, gray-blue shell, with a fine-grained flesh that’s dry, somewhat mealy, and very flavorful. Probably the largest squash you’ll find at the market, these teardrop-shaped behemoths are often sold in manageable chunks, so you can buy only what you need. They have thick skin that ranges from dark green to bluish gray and a dense orange flesh with a rich pumpkin flavor. It’s perfect for pies. Roast bite-size pieces of Hubbard tossed with chopped fresh rosemary, olive oil, salt, and pepper in the same pan with a whole chicken or turkey breast. Or roast squash halves with toasty spices like coriander, fennel, cumin, nutmeg, or curry powder and then mash the flesh.
Don’t have it?
You can substitute sugar pumpkin or butternut squash.
How to choose:
If buying whole, chose one that feels heavy for its size with a matte (not glossy) skin. If buying in pieces, choose those with a deep orange flesh that looks firm and fresh-cut.
How to prep:
Cracking into this enormous squash can seem daunting at first. It helps to soften the skin by pricking the squash several times with a fork and microwaving it for 3 minutes (or bake it directly on the rack in the oven at 350ºF for about 10 minutes. To get to the flesh inside, set the squash on a towel on a cutting board to prevent it from slipping, and push the tip of a sharp chef’s knife into the squash near the stem. Carefully push the knife through the squash to the cutting board to cut off the stem. Then cut lengthwise through half of the squash, starting with the tip of your knife in the center of the squash. (If the knife sticks, don’t try to pull it out; this is dangerous, since it may come out suddenly. Instead, tap the handle with a rubber mallet or meat tenderizer until the knife cuts through the squash.) Rotate the squash and cut through the other side the same way. Push the halves apart with your hands. With a soup spoon, scrape the seeds and stringy bits away from the flesh and discard.
How to store:
Hubbards sweeten with age and can be stored whole in a dry place at cool room temperature for up to five months before using.
If you can’t find Espelette pepper, use just a pinch of cayenne instead. The soup keeps for 3 days in the refrigerator or 2 months in the freezer.
This pie is a favorite of my pastry chef, Terri Horn. She likes to use the best ingredients she can -- farm-fresh squash and high butterfat cream. She recommends eating…