I heard an interview on an episode of NPR: Most E-Mailed Stories podcast last fall with Dorie Greenspan, author of “Around My French Table”. During the interview she cooked a stuffed pumpkin and being a lover of all things pumpkin, I’ve wanted to try this dish every since. She cooked a stuffed pumpkin and explained there were alot of ingredients which could be substituted in the recipe. I’ll be using the really small pumpkins instead of a 3 lb. so everyone can have their own individual pumpkin.
3 lbs whole pumpkin
salt and freshly ground pepper
1/4 lb stale bread, thinly sliced and cut into 1/2-inch chunks
1/4 lb cheese, such as Gruyere, Emmenthal, cheddar, or a combination, cut into 1/2-inch chunks
2 -4 garlic cloves, split, germ removed, and coarsely chopped (to taste)
4 slices bacon, cooked until crisp, and chopped
1/4 cup snipped fresh chives (green onions) or 1/4 cup sliced scallion (green onions)
1 tablespoon fresh thyme, minced
1/3 cup heavy cream
1 pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
1. Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with a silicone baking mat or parchment, or find a Dutch oven with a diameter that’s just a tiny bit larger than your pumpkin. If you bake the pumpkin in a casserole, it will keep its shape, but it might stick to the casserole, so you’ll have to serve it from the pot — which is an appealingly rustic way to serve it. Since I’m using small pumpkins I’ll bake mine in individual casserole dishes.
2. Using a sharp knife knife cut a cap out of the top of the pumpkin (think Halloween jack-o’-lantern). 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 and pepper, and put it on the baking sheet or in the pot. Toss the bread, cheese, garlic, bacon, and herbs together in a bowl. Pack the mix into the pumpkin. The pumpkin should be well filled — you might have a little too much filling, or you might need to add to it. Stir the cream with the nutmeg and some salt and pepper and pour it into the pumpkin. Again, you might have too much or too little — you don’t want the ingredients to swim in cream, but you do want them nicely moistened.
3. 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.
4. When the pumpkin is ready, carefully, very carefully — it’s heavy, hot, and wobbly — bring it to the table or transfer it to a platter that you’ll bring to the table.
5. You have choices when serving:you can cut wedges of the pumpkin and filling; you can spoon out portions of the filling, making sure to get a generous amount of pumpkin into the spoonful; or you can dig into the pumpkin with a big spoon, pull the pumpkin meat into the filling, and then mix everything up. Served in hearty portions, the pumpkin is a perfect cold-weather main course.
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