Baked Acorn Squash
To buy a high-quality acorn squash, look for one that does not have any soft spots/cracks/mold, has a slightly hollow sound when you tap on it with your knuckles, and has a stem. This cooking method has you pre-bake the squash whole to save the hassle of hacking through the hard rind with your knife. Easier, not to mention safer for your fingers! Please use a large serrated bread knife to cut the squash open, and not the butcher's-style knife shown in the photos (below)--serrated knives don't slip on the squash's waxy rind, so they're somewhat safer to use.
One acorn squash, washed and patted dry
Preheat the oven to 350° F. Carefully poke the acorn squash with a sharp knife until you have 10-15 little holes in the rind (to let steam escape, so the squash doesn't turn into a small bomb in the oven.) Put it in the 9 x 13 pan with a shallow layer of water in the pan, and pop in the oven for 30 minutes, to soften the rind.
Remove from oven and handle the squash with hot mitts. Cut in half lengthwise and scrape out the seeds and stringy pulp. Pour more water into the bottom of the pan as needed, and place the squash halves facedown in the pan. This steams the squash and keeps the flesh from getting tough. Bake for another 30 minutes, or until you can easily spoon out the flesh like you would pudding.
Top with butter, pecans, maple syrup, spices, or any other toppings you like. Enjoy!