I have been playing a LOT with cranberries this holiday season, in many different ways, and have completely fallen in love with them as an ingredient. Such little bursts of color and flavor! This Cranberry Chicken Stuffed Squash is my favorite cranberry creation to date: there are many layers to the flavor, such as the warmly savory shredded chicken, the subtle sweetness of onions and parsnips, richness of garlic, plenty of cranberries and parsley leaves.
Now, aside from all of those wonderfully delicious seasonal ingredients in the stuffing, the star of this recipe is the butternut squash. Cutting lengthwise and oven-roasting face-down in a bit of water is a cooking technique that locks in flavor and moisture… resulting in tender squash halves ready for stuffing. I made this dish for two of my lady friends last weekend for a girl’s night in, and I think it’s safe to say that it was a hit! The squash skin softens enough to eat along with the stuffing and the golden flesh of the squash itself. . . although as one of my taste-testers said, scooping the squash out of its skin is the fun part!
So, holiday season or not, this is a seriously tasty combo served with flair. Enjoy with friends and family (recipe makes more than enough to share).
- 2 small butternut squash1 tbsp coconut oil, plus more as needed4 (boneless, skinless) chicken thighs1 onion2 cloves garlic2 large parsnips1 cup cranberries1 tsp fine sea salt, or to taste1/2 tsp black pepperParsley leaves, for garnish (optional)
- Preheat the oven to 400º F. Slice the squash in half lengthwise and scoop out the seeds. Fill a large baking dish with an inch of water and place the squash face down in the water. Cook in the preheated oven for 35 minutes, or until soft when pricked with a fork.
- While the squash cooks, melt the coconut oil in a skillet over medium heat. Cook the chicken thighs for 5-10 minutes on each side until browned and fully-cooked. Remove from the pan and set aside to cool.
- Finely chop the onion and parsnips, or alternatively shred in a food processor. Cook in the same skillet over medium heat, stirring occasionally to prevent sticking and burning, for 10-15 minutes until soft. Dice the garlic and add to the onions and parsnips. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 22-3 minutes. Remove to a medium mixing bowl, and stir in the salt and pepper. Shred the cooked chicken into the parsnip mixture.
- Add more coconut oil to the skillet if necessary, then cook the cranberries until soft. Stir into the chicken stuffing. Remove the squash from the oven and take them out of the water, taking care not to splash any of the boiling water. Turn the squash right side up and fill the center with a mound of the stuffing. Top with parsley leaves if desired and serve warm.