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SWEET AND SPICY HAM AND BUTTERNUT SQUASH GRATIN

Ingredients

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 large onion, chopped

2 jalapeños, chopped, including seeds

1 butternut squash, peeled and chopped into 1-2” dice (about 5 cups)

1 large red bell pepper, chopped

¼ cup chicken stock

1 cup apricot preserves

1-pound ham steak or leftover ham, about 3 cups, chopped into bite-size pieces

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon black pepper

2 cups baby kale or spinach (or a combo), packed

¾ cup dried cranberries

1 cup heavy cream

3 cups Gruyere or good quality Swiss cheese, freshly grated

2 tablespoons butter

1 cup panko

¼ cup flat leaf parsley, chopped

Instructions

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Heat the olive oil in a large (12″) cast iron or oven proof skillet.  Sauté the onion and jalapeños over medium heat until soft and fragrant. Add the butternut and red pepper to the skillet and cook, stirring frequently until the squash is almost fork tender, about 5 minutes.

Add the chicken stock to the pan to deglaze, scraping any brown bits from the bottom of the skillet. Add the apricot preserves, ham pieces, salt and pepper to the pan.  Cook for 1 minute stirring until preserves have melted and coat the squash and ham.

Add the kale and spinach to the pan and stir until greens have wilted.  Add the cranberries and mix to combine, breaking up any that are sticking together.  Turn off the heat.

Pour the heavy cream evenly over the pan and top with the Gruyere cheese, gently moving the contents with a fork so cream and cheese are able to get into the nooks and crannies and everything is well incorporated.

Melt the butter in a medium sauce pan and add the panko, stirring over medium heat until panko is lightly browned.  Top the casserole evenly with the crumbs.

Transfer to the oven and bake for 25-30 minutes until browned and bubbly!  Let rest for 5-10 minutes (if you can wait that long). Garnish with parsley and DEVOUR!

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