Butternut Squash Wellington
Heat up the oven to 200° C / 390° F (180° C / 355° F fan) and line a baking tray with a piece of baking paper.
Cut off the bulbous part of your butternut squash (save it for another use), peel the solid part and cut it in half lengthwise. Brush the two halves with a bit of olive oil on both sides, season with salt and bake in the pre-heated oven for about 35-40 minutes (depending on size), until just cooked all the way through but not too soft. Let the two halves cool down completely.
Heat up 3 tbsp of oil in a heavy bottomed pan. Add finely diced shallots, chopped sage, thyme and rosemary. Fry on a low-medium heat until gently caramelised. Add chopped garlic, stir-fry until softened and fragrant.
Add chopped apple and stir-fry until apple has softened.
Season with salt, pepper, nutmeg and maple syrup.
Add in finely chopped chestnuts and toasted pecans. Stir really well to combine.
Add cranberry sauce so that the mixture is moist (but not soggy) enough to hold around the butternut squash. Taste and adjust the seasoning to your liking. Allow to cool completely.
Heat up 2 tbsp of olive oil in a heavy bottomed pan. Once the oil comes to temperature, add shallots, garlic, carrot, celery sticks and caraway seeds. Sauté gently on a medium heat until lightly caramelised, stirring often.
Next add in tomato paste and vegan Worcester sauce, stir well and allow it to cook until caramelised (not burnt) – stirring from time to time.
Next add in porcini, bay leaf, peppercorns, cider and 1 cup (240 ml) of water.
Allow the mixture to simmer gently until it reduces by about half (30-45 minutes).
Season with salt, apple cider vinegar and maple syrup (if needed). Set aside for the flavours to infuse (ideally overnight if you have time).
Strain the mixture and squeeze all of the juice out of the veggies.
Return the liquid to a small pot. Taste and season to taste.
Bring the gravy to a gentle simmer. Thicken it a little by whisking the cornflour slurry in slowly while it simmers.
Place the sheet of pastry in front of you so that the longer edge runs parallel to the work bench (I used a Jus Roll puff pastry sheet, which measures 23 cm / 9″ by 35 cm / 13.5″ cm). You will place your filling in the horizontal middle of the pastry. The width of the area designated for the filling is determined by the width of your butternut squash (mine was 8 cm / 3″ wide).
Mould some of the filling in a rectangle.
Place the two halves of the butternut squash on top of the filling so that the cut ends touch each other in the centre – you may need to trim them so that they aren’t longer than the filling area.
Mould the rest of the filling over the butternut squash using your hands, making sure you compact the filling as you go along.
Once the filling is in place, make a series of 2.5 cm / 1″ diagonal incisions in the pastry on both sides of the stack to be able to create a braid at the top. See photos and video under this post for more details.
Fold both end (top and bottom) flaps up, like you would wrap a present and then braid the strips over the top of the filling, alternating sides. If you end up with big gaps at either of the ends, patch them up with leftover pastry. This method works great here as it prevents slack in the pastry and allows for tight wrapping despite the slightly irregular shape of the filling. The tiny gaps in between the braids allow the steam to escape and prevents the vegetarian Wellington from bursting while in the oven.
Brush the pastry with soy milk.
Bake for about 50 minutes, until the pastry is beautifully puffed and golden. Serve with gravy and your favourite sides.
When choosing a butternut squash, bear in mind the dimensions of your pastry sheet. Mine was 23 cm / 9″ wide so I needed a filling that does not exceed 19 cm / 7.5″ so that there is a sufficient pastry margin left at both ends. You can either use the solid part (i.e. cut off the bulbous part where the seeds are) of a very long squash or two solid halves of a short one put together like I did here.