Welcome to In Season, our series celebrating the juiciest fruit and crispest veggies in Texas. This fall, we asked local chefs to share stories about their favorite items of seasonal produce—and to create original recipes that make the most of autumn’s bounty.

Sarah Flores and Sabrina Lozano grew up eating calabaza con pollo, a warming blend of chicken and squash perfect for those days in Texas when temperatures (finally!) begin to drop.  

The sisters, who own and operate Loli’s Streatery food truck, in Corpus Christi, wanted to make a dish that plays off the staple while incorporating their own playful spin on things. That’s their ethos for all the food they serve at their truck, such as crispy waffle fries topped with queso and a loaded roasted corn bowl with slow-cooked brisket.

“We wanted to do calabaza con pollo, but on nachos,” Flores says. “And then we started thinking about all the different kinds of squash that are out there.” The women landed on tromboncino and delicata squash for the dish.

“For the squash selection, we met with a local farm,” Flores says. “They discussed with us that while the tromboncino is typically a nationwide summer squash, local Texan farmers are able to grow the squash to a higher standard in the winter, due to a late frosting period.”

While gravy isn’t a traditional nacho topping, it further adds to the sustaining nature of this dish. It’s as fun to make as it is to eat—just make sure you have plenty of napkins handy.

Calabaza con Pollo Nachos

This recipe is definitely not ballpark fare—these nachos are wholesome, filling, and warming with chicken, a squash gravy, and roasted squash seeds.
Prep Time 45 mins
Cook Time 2 hrs
Servings 4

Ingredients  

For the calabaza gravy:

  • 1 large delicata squash,* diced (reserve seeds)
  • salt, to taste
  • ¼ cup vegetable oil
  • 1 medium tromboncino squash,* seeded and diced
  • ½ medium yellow onion, sliced
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • ½ large tomato, diced
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • ½ teaspoon cumin
  • 1½ to 2 cups chicken broth
  • 1 teaspoon chicken bouillon
  • ¾ cup roasted corn (can be frozen)

For the chicken chile verde:

  • 2 poblano peppers
  • ½ white onion, peeled and quartered
  • 3 tomatillos
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1 jalapeño, seeded
  • 1 tablespoon chicken bouillon
  • ½ cup chicken broth
  • 2 large chicken breasts, cooked and shredded
  • salt, to taste

For the roasted delicata seeds:

  • seeds from delicata squash, washed
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon chile powder

For assembly:

  • corn tortilla chips (freshly fried is ideal)
  • Oaxaca cheese, shredded
  • Mexican crema
  • cilantro
  • 2 limes, quartered

Directions 

For the calabaza gravy:

  • Preheat the oven to 450 F. Line a baking tray with parchment paper.
  • Toss delicata squash with salt and 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil. Add the delicata squash to the tray and put on the middle rack. Bake for 20 minutes, flipping halfway. (Ingredients for the chicken chile verde can also be baked at this time; see below.) Broil for additional 3–5 minutes at the end. Set aside squash.
  • In a large pan, heat 1 tablespoon of oil on medium heat. Add tromboncino squash to pan and sear for 3 minutes, or until browned. Flip and cook for an additional 3–4 minutes, until tender. Set aside with delicata squash.
  • Add the remainder of the oil to pan on medium-low heat. Add yellow onion and cook 5 minutes, until translucent. Add garlic and tomato; cook for 5 more minutes. Add flour and cumin, and stir with a wooden spatula, scraping the bottom of the pan. Once combined, stir in chicken broth and chicken bouillon. Simmer on low heat until thickened to a gravy.
  • To the gravy, add tromboncino, delicata squash, and corn. Simmer on low for 5 minutes.

For the chicken chile verde:

  • Put poblano peppers, white onion, tomatillos, garlic, and jalapeño in a baking dish. At the same time you’re roasting the delicata squash in the oven (see above), put the baking dish on the top rack of the oven and bake for 20 minutes. Broil for additional 3–5 minutes at the end.
  • Remove poblano peppers and seal them in a container for 10 minutes. Once cooled, remove skin and add peppers back to the baking dish.
  • Add chicken bouillon to pepper mixture and blend with chicken broth in a blender until smooth. Add shredded chicken and salt. Keep warm and set aside.

For the roasted delicata seeds:

  • Lower oven temperature to 270 F. Combine delicata seeds with olive oil, salt, and chile powder. Bake for 35–40 minutes on a baking sheet until golden brown. Set aside.

For assembly:

  • To assemble nachos, place corn chips on a plate. Top with chicken chile verde. Sprinkle Oaxaca cheese evenly over chicken. Smother with calabaza gravy, drizzle Mexican crema, and garnish with roasted delicata seeds, cilantro, and squeezes of lime.

Notes

*Zucchini and yellow squash are acceptable alternatives for tromboncino and delicata squash.