Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Pumpkin stuffed with goodness

The gals on our local radio station have been touting the pleasures of this concoction for years: Pumpkin Stuffed with Everything Good. The love child of bread pudding and fondue, this dish is easy to throw together, doesn't require a complicated recipe, and with a salad makes a complete meal (or a celebratory side dish). Don't have a pumpkin? Use squash. Don't have white bread? Use French, cornbread, or whatever bread happens to be hanging out in your kitchen. Add your favorite cheese, any combination of fruit, nut, herbs, and veggie. Got bacon? Add that.

The original source is Dorie Greenspan. Next time I make this I'll be using my favorite grilled cheese ingredients and stuffing it into one of the dozen or so squash that seem to have made my pantry their permanent habitat (cranberry walnut bread with Fontina and Gruyère, extra walnuts and cranberries).

Helpful hints: let this baby bubble away for about an hour and a half before you check the pumpkin for donesness. Depending on the size, it may take an additional half hour to completely cook.

Pumpkin Stuffed with Everything Good
Adapted from Dorie Greenspan's recipe

Serves 2 to 4

1 pumpkin or squash, 1 1/2 to 3 pounds
Salt, pepper, olive oil
1 to 3 cups stale bread, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
4 to 8 ounces good melting cheese, such as Gruyère, Emmenthal, cheddar, or a combination, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
2-4 garlic cloves (to taste), minced
About 1/4 cup snipped fresh chives, scallions, or shallot
1 tablespoon minced fresh thyme and/or sage
About 1/3 cup heavy cream
Freshly grated nutmeg
 
Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 350-degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
 
Using a very sturdy knife cut a cap out of the top of the pumpkin or squash (think Halloween Jack-o-Lantern). It's easiest to work your knife around the top of the pumpkin at a 45-degree angle. You want to cut off enough of the top to make it easy for you to work inside the pumpkin. Clear away the seeds and strings from the cap and from inside the pumpkin. Season the inside of the pumpkin generously with salt, pepper, and olive oil. Place pumpkin or squash on the baking sheet.
 
Toss the bread, cheese, garlic, onion, and herbs together in a bowl. Season with pepper and pack the mix into the pumpkin. The pumpkin should be well filled. Stir the cream with the nutmeg and some salt and pepper and pour it into the pumpkin. You don't want the ingredients to swim in cream, but you do want them nicely moistened.
 
Put the cap in place and bake the pumpkin for about 2 hours—check after 90 minutes—or until everything inside the pumpkin is bubbling and the flesh of the pumpkin is tender enough to be pierced easily with the tip of a knife. Because the pumpkin will have exuded liquid, remove the cap during the last 20 minutes or so, so that the liquid can bake away and the top of the stuffing can brown a little.This is also a good time to add a handful of nuts or roasted pumpkin seeds.
 
When the pumpkin is ready, carefully transfer it to a serving platter. Allow the pumpkin to cool at least 10 minutes before presenting. Spoon out portions of the filling, making sure to get a generous amount of pumpkin into the spoonful.

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