I'm never happier than when I'm cooking over fire. Often, that involves meat, but on occasion, I make a stab at not perishing from creepy pirate diseases, so I'll throw a vegetable on the grill. That's how I ended up making beer and egg custard in a squash on my smoker, and it was crazypants delicious. (No I was not drunk or high at any point, thank you for inquiring.) On a whim, I picked up a turban squash at the market, because how often do you run across a turban squash in your everyday life, and it seemed like a crime against its essential physicality not to cook something inside it.
I ran through the options: Soup has been done to death, I can't really eat grains right now (it's a whole Paleo for health reasons thing and it's totally tedious), and I already had steaks fired up and ready to go. Why not eggs? I've been eating them lately like it's my dang job and itching to try them on the grill. A savory egg custard came to mind, but I was fresh out of broth. I looked around for inspiration and quickly found it in the form of beer. Beer and eggs are boon companions and no, beer isn't Paleo, but sometimes you just have to live your life and suffer whatever minor stomach discomfort may come. (FYI, it turned out to be minimal, if any, but only you truly know your own gut.)
After softening the cut-open squash on the smoker over charcoal and applewood at around 250°F, I poured in a frothy batter of eggs and beer with a little smoky Benton's bacon fat, crossed my fingers, and hoped the moisture from the squash would help the mixture to steam.
It's an astonishing thing when your dopey little dreams come true. My friends and I devoured it straight out of the squash, dragging our spoons into the flesh along with the impossibly fluffy beer and egg custard. I used a Saranac Adirondack Lager because that's what I had on hand, but should you care to try this at home (on the grill or in your oven), sub in the brew of your choice (or broth if you're more Paleo-rigid or grain-sensitive than I am). A turban squash is great, but a scooped-out acorn, carnival or kabocha squash, or even a pumpkin (mmm… beer and pumpkin) would be just as delightful.
Is this part of my nefarious plan to make everyone eat squash for breakfast? Yes. But there's also beer. Life is compromise.
Smoked Beer and Egg Custard in a Squash
Cut the top section or lid from the squash and scrape out the insides. (Roast or plant the seeds; they're too good to waste.) Coat the inside of the bottom and lid with 1 tablespoon of the fat and sprinkle lightly with salt.
Prepare your grill or smoker for cooking with indirect heat. Gas is OK for this, but charcoal is ideal. When the fire is ready, place the two squash pieces to the side of the heat, toss in a handful of wood chips or a foil packed filled with wood chips, and close the lid. Grills and smokers vary wildly, so you'll need to keep an eye on things. Check every 20-30 minutes to make sure the squash is softening, but not burning. Add more coals and chips as needed.
While the squash is cooking, combine eggs, beer or broth, the remaining tablespoon of fat (melted), and as much salt as will please you. Whisk or combine in a food processor until frothy.
When the squash has softened enough to be easily pricked inside with a fork, pour in the egg mixture nearly to the top. Close the grill or smoker lid and peek in every 20-30 minutes to see if the custard is firming up. Add more coals and chips as needed, and rotate the squash if it seems to be over-browning in one spot. The custard is ready when it springs back from a gentle press from a spoon back or fingertip.
Serve with spoons to dig out custard, scraping into the flesh of the squash when you can.