Why didn’t we think of this before?
Butternut squash is a comforting and versatile addition to your holiday table. The best part? Most butternut squash recipes are fairly easy to perfect. There's a catch, however. You have to get through the tough exterior skin before you can harvest the sweet, creamy, delicious flesh awaiting you inside. If you've ever tried the old-fashioned method of peeling away the skin bit by bit with a vegetable peeler, you know it can be tedious and messy. That's the last thing you need, especially when you're preparing for the holidays. Luckily, there's another option. Chef Ryan Smith, chef and owner of Lazy Susan Tapas Bar in Macon, Georgia, shared his simple method for removing the skin from a butternut squash. Now that we've tried it, we're never going back.

Start With a Good Knife
A good knife will make any job in the kitchen easier. Smith says he prefers to use a Japanese Nakiri-style knife because the higher ridge between the blade and body allows you more room to guide the edge when you're working with the thick skin of a butternut squash. Whatever type of blade you select, just make sure it's sufficiently sharp. A dull blade will be harder to work and increase the chances of an accident. To determine if your knife needs to be sharpened, simply test it out on a piece of soft fruit like a tomato or even a sheet of paper. If it glides through quickly and effortlessly, you're good to go. Otherwise, you'll want to sharpen your knife before you begin.

Separate the Stalk From the Drum
Once you've selected your knife, it's time to place the butternut squash on a cutting board so you can separate the stalk from the body, or drum. Smith says, "Lay the squash on its side and cut it in half where the round bit (the drum) begins. From here, take the stalk and remove the other end." At this point, you should have exposed the interior so you can see the flesh on both ends of the squash.

Remove the Skin
Now that you've flattened the ends of the squash, Smith says to stand it up vertically and begin cutting the skin off in small strips with your knife. If there is still flesh clinging to the skin, you can separate it with a sharp paring knife. Now your butternut squash is ready to prepare. It's that simple!

How to Prepare Butternut Squash
Now that the skin has been removed, you're ready to prepare your butternut squash. Smith says that if you're dicing it, you should maintain no more than a half inch thickness. Otherwise, it will be hard to cook all the way through. If you want to make a butternut squash puree (a favorite of Ina Garten), Smith says there's no need to dice it beforehand. Just split the squash from root to stem and it's ready for roasting.