This is my take on Heidi Swanson's take on Mark Bittman's recipe.
It is rare for a recipe to go straight from Maiden Voyage to Crack Food Category, but occasionally the stars do align. Usually, the first run generates a list of things that I would tweak, realizations of what I screwed up, or other adjustments to improve either the recipe (I'm looking at you, Mollie Katzen) or my execution thereof, but this dish was pretty fab right out of the oven.
Here is Heidi's version of the recipe:
I screwed up a bit and used dried cranberries. If you are referencing the photo [on her website, pics here are mine ~kxm], you'll notice the shrivel factor. Still good. You can make this vegan, vegetarian, I used a bit of cream* - but you can use just stock or water. The real trick is getting the millet to cook all the way though, so don't over toast it, and keep adding liquids if you need to.
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil, plus oil for the dish
3/4 cup millet
1 medium butternut or other winter squash or 1 small pumpkin, peeled seeded and cut into 1-inch cubes
1 cup fresh cranberries
Salt and freshly ground pepper
1 tablespoon minced sage leaves or 1 teaspoon dried
2 tablespoons maple syrup or honey
1 cup vegetable stock or water, warmed*
1/4 cup pumpkin seeds or coarsely chopped hazelnuts
Preheat the oven to 375F and grease a 2-quart casserole, a large gratin dish, or a 9x13-inch baking dish with olive oil.
Put 2 tablespoons of the oil in a small skillet over medium-high heat. When hot, add the millet and cook, stirring frequently, until fragrant and golden, about 3 minutes (hs note: don't overdo it). Spread in the bottom of the prepared baking dish.
Scatter the squash or pumpkin cubes and the cranberries on top of the millet. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and the sage and drizzle with syrup. Carefully pour the warmed stock over all (hs note: I did about 1/2 cup stock & 1/2 cup cream based on one of his variations). Cover tightly with foil and bake without disturbing, for 45 minutes.
Carefully uncover and turn the oven to 400F. As discreetly as possible, sneak a taste and adjust the seasoning. If it looks too dry, add a spoonful or two of water or stock. (hs note: This is key! The millet should be close to being cooked through at this point, if not you need to add liquid and keep it moist and cooking - I used another 1/4 cup+ of stock here).Sprinkle the pumpkin seeds on top, and return the dish to the oven. Bake until the mixture bubbles and the top is browned (hs note: and the millet is cooked through), another 10 minutes or so. Serve piping hot or at room temperature (hs note: drizzled with the remaining olive oil if you like).
Serves 4 to 6.
* In the end, I used 3/4 cup stock + 1/2 cup cream
Personally, I think maple syrup would be too strong a flavor and too sweet, but if you are a big lover of maple flavor, it might work for you, or you might want to try it with 1 tablespoon of each, honey and syrup.
This dish was easy to make, the hardest part was cutting up the squash, but once that is done, it moves quickly, though it does require nearly an hour of baking time. You could still do it on a weeknight, so long as you didn't arrive home ravenous.
I foresee this dish becoming a fall/winter regular along with my Spiced Butternut Squash Stew over Couscous (yes, I will get to a post on that...). MMMNOMNOMNOM! I hope you like it as much as I do!
* Here's a nice list with pictures of different types of winter squashes to help you identify them in the store or at the farmer's market.