Marketing the seasons is nothing new. According to retailers, school starts in July, Halloween in August, Thanksgiving in September, and Christmas...well, it seems like any time is a good time to start your Christmas shopping.
The pumpkin market, though, is in a class all by itself. When fall hits, every restaurant, coffee shop, and grocery store plasters their walls with posters advertising pumpkin spice fill-in-the-blank. The pumpkin phenomenon may have gotten out of hand. This assertion might make me sound like an old lady screaming at trick-or-treaters to get off my lawn...except I'm about to offer you a pumpkin recipe.
One of my friends had a pumpkin-themed potluck last night, and as much as I make fun of the pumpkin trend, everyone brought something delicious that included pumpkin. Pumpkin ravioli, pumpkin salad, pumpkin pizza, pumpkin pie, pumpkin cookies, a fabulous pumpkin bourbon milkshake (heavy on the bourbon, light on the pumpkin)...the list goes on. I decided to go whole hog (whole gourd?) and hollow out an entire pumpkin, stuff it, and bake it.
I knew I would get points for presentation, but I honestly didn't have incredibly high hopes for this combination of flavors. As it turned out, they melded perfectly. Although my serving method wasn't perfect--I just stuck a spoon into the stuffing, so most people only ate that and didn't get any pumpkin--I combined the two on my plate with wonderful results. Next time I would follow the directions Dorie Greenspan offers and either slice the pumpkin with the stuffing for individual portions, or scoop it all into a big bowl and mix it up.
I made a vegetarian version, but if you're only serving this to meat eaters I would definitely add some bacon or sausage. You can use pretty much any combination of bread and cheese--whatever you think would go well together. No matter how you make it, this is one pumpkin recipe worth trying.
pumpkin stuffed with everything good
adapted from dorie greenspan
serves 6 as a side or 4 as a main course
1 medium cooking pumpkin, 3 to 4 pounds
about 4 c bread, torn into chunks (I used cranberry pecan)
6 oz cheese, shredded (gruyere, emmentaler, cheddar, or whatever you like)
4 cloves garlic, minced
about 1/2 c heavy cream
freshly grated nutmeg
salt and pepper
Place the oven rack on the bottom Preheat the oven to 350. Cut out the top of the pumpkin, leaving a large enough hole for your hand to fit. Remove the seeds from the pumpkin, and save them if you'd like to toast them. Rub the inside of the pumpkin with salt and pepper.
In a large bowl combine the bread, cheese, and garlic, and mix with your hands to combine. Stuff the pumpkin with the bread-cheese mixture, filling it but leaving space to put the cap back on.
Combine the cream with as much nutmeg, salt, and pepper as you think is necessary, and pour the cream mixture into the pumpkin, covering the bread but not submerging it in liquid.
Place the cap back on the pumpkin and place it on a parchment-lined cookie sheet or in a Dutch oven. I used a Dutch oven to make sure my pumpkin wouldn't collapse, but it held up remarkably well. Bake for about 2 1/2 hours or until the pumpkin is easily pierced with a fork. I removed the cap after about 2 hours to let the top of the stuffing brown. Prepare to impress your friends and family!