Pumpkin Stuffed with Everything Good
As is the case with many families, we end up having to eat two Thanksgiving dinners each year. (How gluttonous does that sound?) However, to me, turkey twice in one year is pushing it, let alone twice in one week. That’s why I like to make this recipe. This dish is basically a Thanksgiving dinner, sans turkey and mashed potatoes. And yet, you could even go ahead and throw turkey in there too if you’d like. Just please don’t ask me over for dinner.
Have I mentioned that I have an aversion to rules as well? Well I do. That’s why I prefer cooking over baking. Baking is more of a science with all kinds of fussy measurements going on. It’s hard to just fudge it and come up with a tasty sweet like, say, fudge.
With cooking, you can get a little creative. With this particular dish, creativity reigns supreme. If you’re uncomfortable with creative cooking, quickly look away and move on to the next recipe one post up or down because this dish is guaranteed to give you the willies.
I first made it several years ago and loved it!
I mean, who, other than maybe Peter Peter Pumpkin Eater, presents dinner in a pumpkin shell, anyway? It’s kind of cool. Yet piping hot.
Listed below are the basic SUGGESTED ingredients. If you want to make it a vegetarian dish, just leave out the bacon and sausage. If you want to sub out the sausage and apples for ham and peas, be my guest. See, there’s really no right or wrong answer here other than dumping all of the contents into a pumpkin and baking it. That’s the only rule.
Recipe courtesy of Dorie Greenspan and her book, “Around My French Table: More Than 300 Recipes From My Home to Yours.”
1 sugar or pie pumpkin, about 3 pounds (Confession: mine is a little large.)
Salt and freshly ground pepper
1/4 pound stale bread, thinly sliced and cut into 1/2-inch chunks
1/4 pound cheese, such as Gruyère, Emmenthal, cheddar, or a combination, cut into 1/2-inch chunks
2–4 garlic cloves and coarsely chopped
4 slices bacon, cooked until crisp, drained, and chopped
About 1/4 cup chopped fresh chives
1 tablespoon minced fresh thyme
About 1 cup heavy cream
Pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
I added 1 large, diced apple, 1/2 cup of Craisins, 1/4 cup each of sautéed diced celery, onion, and mushrooms, 4 chopped sage leaves and 1/4 lb. of crumbled, sautéed turkey sausage.
Preheat your oven to 35o°.
Cut the top off of your pumpkin, and scrape out and discard the guts. Do not carve a scary face into it.
Generously salt and pepper the inside of the pumpkin and place it on a silicone-lined, rimmed baking pan.
Fry and chop the bacon and throw it in a large bowl.
Saute the apples, onions, celery, mushrooms, sausage, and garlic and throw it in the same bowl.
Cut up your bread and cheese and throw them in the same bowl. (My eleven-year-old is the hand model wielding the giant knife. Don’t worry, he knows his way around a kitchen.)
Add the Craisins, chives, sage and thyme to the bowl.
Now sprinkle 1/2 teaspoon of pepper and salt over the ingredients in the bowl and mix it all up – I just dig in there with clean hands and give it a stir. And then stuff the whole mixture into the pumpkin shell. If you have mixture left over, put it in a casserole dish and save it for another night to serve as stuffing.
Mix the heavy cream with the nutmeg and a little salt and pepper, and pour it right into the pumpkin on top of the stuffing mix. Your mixture should be moist, but not soupy. If you don’t think it’s wet enough, add more cream. Or if you prefer, you could probably use vegetable stock as well. No rules.
Cover the pumpkin with the lid, and bake for 2 hours at 350°. It’s ready when the pumpkin is easily penetrated with a knife, and the inside liquid is bubbly.
Et, voila! “Your Pumpkin Stuffed with Everything Good” is ready to devour. You can cut the pumpkin into wedges, or scoop it out with a serving spoon. It’s delicious either way! But don’t trust me . . . pretty much ever. Make your own version and find out for yourself.
Serve it with a fresh green salad and perhaps a side of homemade cranberry sauce and you’ve got a winner.