There are two good methods to use to cook hard winter squash variates like acorn squash, butternut squash, pumpkins, and kabocha. Incidentally, like soft skinned so called “summer squash”, winter squash also grows in the warmer months of the year but its skin gives it a longer shelf life so it is typically stored and eaten in the fall and winter. But, I digress.
The two methods I recommend are:
1. Peel the squash and with a sharp knife, carefully cut it in half, remove the seeds, and microwave the in a covered glass pie dish on high with about ½ and inch of water for 5-10 minutes, or until very soft. This works well when you are working with a small squash and feeling impatient.
2. Bake the squash halved, seeded, and unpeeled at 400°F for 20-30 minutes. Allow the squash to cool until it can be comfortably handled then scoop the baked pulp out of the skin with a spoon. This works well for larger squashes and, since the first method involves adding water, recipes that you don’t want to be excessively moist.