(2/13 Update: Since I first wrote this post I’ve switched to partially microwaving or baking the squash to soften it before peeling or slicing. My new directions are: cook the squash in the microwave for five minutes on high, turning the squash halfway through. Or bake it in the oven on 35o for 20 minutes. Let the squash cool, then peel and cut as desired.)
You’ve got a big, beautiful, very hard butternut squash. Cutting it with an inadequate or dull knife would be dangerous. Time to get out your best sharp chef’s knife. Doesn’t have to be an 8″ Shun, like this one, just a heavy, properly sharpened chef’s knife.
Lay a damp towel under your cutting board to keep it from slipping. Now take a thin slice off the short, bottom end of the squash to make a stable, flat surface:
This is very important to ensure that the squash won’t slip while you are cutting it. Now do the same thing to the stem end:
Set the squash on the flat bottom end, and cut it lengthwise from stem to bottom. This is the most difficult part. Make sure the squash is firmly stabilized and your fingers are out of the way.
Scoop out the seeds:
And peel it with a sharp peeler or a paring knife:
Slice it with your chef’s knife:
Cut the sliced butternut squash into rounds:
Finally, lay the sliced rounds flat and cut them again to make cubes:
After about fifteen minutes of work, you have cubed squash for your recipe:
If you’re cutting a smaller squash, you could microwave it a little to soften it before cutting. This 3# squash, which yielded about 10 cups of cubes, was too big for that.