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It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas

One of the things I love about the holidays are how the stores are brimming with unusual, exotic ingredients. For example, this:

I took an unexpected trip to Ferraro’s in New Haven and helped my friend pick out vast quantities of meat and seafood for her Italian Christmas Eve. She didn’t get the pig’s head, but she contemplated a giant frozen brick of octopus.

My Christmas menu is still up in the air. Some call it procrastination. I prefer to think of it as spontaneous.

In the meantime, in the spirit of giving, I’ve decided to share my favorite new recipe with you. This comes courtesy of the American National Cattle Women, Inc. and was created by Christine Riccitelli of Incline Village, Nevada. It is so easy and incredibly tender and flavorful. Merry Christmas!

Nuevo Chipotle Beef in Butternut Squash Boats


  • 1 1/2 pounds beef for stew
  • 1/3 cup water
  • 1/4 cup tomato paste
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons ground chipotle chile pepper
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 medium butternut squash, about 3 pounds
  • 1 1/2 cups water
  • 1 medium tomato, chopped
  • 1 small ripe avocado, cut into cubes, optional
  • 1/4 cup freshly chopped cilantro leaves


Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.

Place the beef, water, tomato paste, sugar, vinegar, chipotle pepper, cumin, salt and black pepper in stockpot. Cover and bake in 325 degrees F oven 1 3/4 to 2 1/4 hours or until beef is fork-tender.

Meanwhile, cut squash lengthwise into quarters and remove seeds. Place squash cut side down in a 13 by 9-inch glass baking dish, overlapping if necessary. Add water. Bake in the preheated oven for 1 to 1 1/4 hours or until fork-tender.

Place each baked squash quarter onto serving plate. Fill with equal amounts of beef mixture. Top with tomato and avocado, if desired. Sprinkle with cilantro.


Cook’s Tip: 1 tablespoon minced, seeded chipotle pepper in adobo sauce may be substituted for ground chipotle chile pepper.

Cook’s Tip: The chipotle beef mixture may also be cooked on the stovetop. Bring beef mixture to a boil. Reduce heat; simmer, covered, 1 3/4 to 2 1/4 hours or until beef is fork-tender.