03 Nov Simply Homemade Series: A Really Great Stuffed Pumpkin!
What says “It’s fall” to you? A few things do it for me. Multi-colored leaves crunching under my feet, sweater-wearing, apple-picking, and pumpkin cooking. Let me tell you, I wasn’t always a pumpkin cooking type of gal.
The only times I used pumpkin in a recipe, it was in a can (which I still prefer for pies…it’s just easier!) But then one fall I had the great joy of eating a stuffed pumpkin and my views on cooking pumpkins changed.
In 2008 I first came across this recipe by Dorie Greenspan. She played around with the recipe to see what types of fillings she preferred and I have as well. I suggest you do the same based on the tastes of your family. I have found, though, after nine years of making this recipe, that no matter what combo I use, it is always gobbled up within about 20 minutes after it comes out of the oven!
A ROUGH RECIPE FOR A REALLY GOOD STUFFED PUMPKIN
Makes 2 generous or 4 genteel servings
1 pumpkin, about 2 1/2 to 3 pounds
4 ounces stale bread, sliced thin, then cut into 1/2-inch chunks
4 ounces cheese, such as Gruyere, Swiss, Blue, Cheddar or a combination, cut into 1/2-inch chunks
2-4 cloves garlic (to taste), peeled, germ removed and coarsely chopped
About 1/3 cup heavy cream
Freshly grated nutmeg
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Either line a baking sheet with parchment or a silicone baking mat or find a Dutch oven that’s the same diameter as the pumpkin.
Using a very sturdy knife, cut a cap off the top of the pumpkin. Clear away any seeds and strings from the cap and set it aside while you scoop out the seeds and filaments inside the pumpkin. (Hold onto this goop if you would like to extract and roast the seeds.) Season the inside of the pumpkin with salt and pepper and put it on the sheet or in the casserole.
Now you have a choice, you can either toss the bread, cheese and garlic together in a bowl, then pack it into the pumpkin, or you can alternate layers of bread and cheese and scatter the garlic here and there. (I mixed everything together.) Either way, the filling should go into the pumpkin and fill it well. You might have a little too much filling or you might need to add to it — it’s hard to give exact amounts. Season the cream with salt, pepper and several gratings of fresh nutmeg and pour the cream 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 to get a feeling that they’re moistened.
Put the cap back in place and bake the pumpkin for about 2 hours — check after 90 minutes — or until everything inside the pumpkin is bubbly and the flesh of the pumpkin is tender enough to be pierced easily with the tip of a knife. I removed the cap during the last 20 minutes or so of baking so that the top could brown.
Once it is done, you can choose to either cut the pumpkin into wedges, so you could cut a cube of pumpkin and have it with some of the stuffing, but you can also leave the pumpkin whole and use a big spoon to scoop out pumpkin and filling. You could even scrape the pumpkin into the filling and mix it all up.
Varieties of Stuffing Options
After many tests, our favorite way to make this recipe is to add cooked, chopped bacon with fresh chives and fresh sage into the pumpkin before baking. Chopped ham also tastes great. My favorite way to serve this dish is to scrape the pumpkin into the filling and mix it up. Then people can take a scoop out and put in on their plates with toasted french bread (like a dip).
I have served this a few times as a main dish. When I do this I cut the pumpkin into wedges and each person gets a wedge along with some french bread and a side salad. The kids love the presentation of this dish and enjoy taking the top off of the pumpkin as a “Ta-da!” moment. I hope you try out this scrumptious seasonal recipe! Maybe it will become one of your fall favorites too!