One thing I admire about French (and American) chefs: They have no qualms taking specialties from around the world and modifying them with the utmost confidence; now I don’t know who came up with the idea of a savory crumble but I see it on French cooking sites a lot.
This is inspired by one such crumble made with pumpkin, cream and lardons (bacon bits) and topped with a crumble of flour, butter and hazelnuts.
Except my version has some Middle-Eastern touches.
One advantage of this crumble is that it can be prepared in advance and baked 30 minutes before dinnertime.
Another advantage is that the vegetables can be varied ad infinitum as well as the spices and nuts used in the topping.
INGREDIENTS: 8 servings
- 1 Kabocha squash (or a small pumpkin or a can of pumpkin)
- 4 Baking potatoes (about 1 1/2 pounds or 675 g.)
- 1/2 pound of bacon, cut into small pieces
- For the mashed potato: 1/2 cup of melted butter noisette (melt the butter until browned bits show up at the bottom of the pan with a distinct nutty and delicious fragrance)
- 1/2 cup of cream or half-and-half (or half cream, half milk)
- salt, black pepper, sumac (to sprinkle on the potatoes, it gives a slight lemony taste and cuts down the richness), a pinch of nutmeg and 3 tablespoons of chopped parsley
- For the crumble: 3/4 cup of flour (white or whole wheat), 6 tablespoons of unsalted butter, 3 tablespoons of polenta, 4 tablespoons of dukkah (can substitute roasted chopped nuts of your choice), salt to taste.
- Boil the potatoes until cooked; cut the squash in half and bake in the oven until soft (remove the fibrous interior first) . Peel and mash the potatoes, adding salt, sumac, and several tablespoons of melted butter. Keep the texture coarse. Set aside.
- Peel and cut the squash in small chunks, place in a pot and add 1/4 cup of water and 1/4 cup (up to 1/2 cup) of cream; bring to a simmer and simmer for 5 minutes; remove from the heat and mash the squash, adding salt, and a pinch of freshly grated nutmeg. Set aside.
- Fry the bacon bits and drain on a paper towel-lined sieve.
- Grease the ramequins or a pyrex pie plate with some melted butter; spread the first layer with potatoes; sprinkle the top with the bacon bits and a few tablespoons of chopped parsley. Cover the layer of bacon and parsley with the creamed squash, spreading it all over the pan or ramequins. Set aside.
- To make the crumble, either use a mini food-processor or a fork or the tip of your fingers. Place the flour, butter (cut up in small pieces), polenta and dukkah in a bowl and rub it in until the texture is like sand. Spread the mixture over the pan or ramequins and when ready to serve, bake in a 350F oven for about 30 minutes; you can run it under the broiler for one minute at the end to give it a nice golden color. Serve warm.
For the dukkah recipe, click here.