forget pumpkin pie! forget dessert! this is everything good with pumpkin. ::::
After 10 years, I offer something extra special for this anniversary. The traditional 10-year anniversary gift for married couples is tin. Just because something is tradition, does not mean it has to endure for the sake of tradition. No need for tin. Let’s do pumpkin instead.
The past year hasn’t exactly been a great one while we all swim in the undertow of the CoVID-19 pandemic. I may have baked more bread this year than in recent years, though I did not step up my cooking game like some people did under the pressure of restaurant closures and limited socializing outside of the home. I’m still doing about what I was doing before.
I have, however, been a little more interested in trying some fun, new things lately, because the yeast breads started getting a little old for everyone. The scent of freshly baked bread has not lured the children in as easily nowadays. They gravitate to the pantry for Oreos, Cheetos, Takis, Pepperidge Farm Milano cookies instead.
But, bacon. Bacon gets them every time. If I cook it for a recipe, I buy double and have extra on hand to nibble on. It seems to disappear if I’m not monitoring carefully. This stuffed pumpkin recipe is actually called “pumpkin stuffed with everything good” from Dorie Greenspan, the first being the bacon. That’s how I convinced everyone into trying a bite: “Hey, there’s bacon in it! Really!” I adjusted some of Dorie’s suggestions on what is good in a pumpkin to include different types of cheese and spinach. That’s the beauty of this recipe: you can totally adjust to make whatever stuffing you like and encase it in a pumpkin shell.
The prep is a little arduous, needing to hollow out the pumpkin and chop/cook the stuffing ingredients. Sounds kind of like 2020: We have so many little bits, so many things to try to shove together to make something good for awhile. In the end, it does work out ok, even if it’s different than what we’re used to. I hope your 2021 is stuffed with everything good. I’m tired and ready for an upswing.
Sooooo, some of the players (from top left): chopped garlic, bacon, mozzarella cheese, spinach, cream, bread cubes, Gouda cheese cubes, 4-5 pound pumpkin, and its leftover seeds. (I was going to roast the seeds separately but got lazy and never did.)
See! See! The pumpkin looks a little beaten up but it’s still holding its shape–hello, 2020 and the human condition.
Cut it like a tall cake like I did below. The sweetness of the roasted pumpkin is delicious with the savory, creamy filling. (And the area on the upper right where I held it to cut looks like the Star Wars’ Death Star.)
Ok, 2021, I’m hoping you can climb out of 2020’s mire. Like I’ve said in recent posts, readers – when the CoVID-19 vaccine is available, get vaccinated! Let’s bring our world back to a place where we can physically be together more easily (and share more bacon).
Here’s to 10 more years stuffed with everything good!
One year ago: sikil pak (pumpkin seed dip)
Two years ago: woven yeast bread
Three years ago: blood orange pâte de fruit
Four years ago: I took a break and hired Mui Tsun to redesign the site.
Five years ago — This is such a fun post and one of two posts on the blog where I am in the photos! I made and wore a dress made from fresh brassica and allium greens, a necklace of grapes, and rosemary in my hair.
Six years ago: pandan chiffon cake
Seven years ago: polenta chips with rosemary and parmesan
Eight years ago: mulled cider with homemade spice sachet
Nine years ago: cannellini bean, ricotta, chocolate torte
Ten years ago: the very first post! – debutante cake
- 1 pumpkin, 3 to 5 pounds
- salt and pepper
- ¼ pound stale bread, cut into ½-inch cubes
- ¼ pound cheese, cut into ½-inch chunks - the original recipe recommends Gruyere, Emmenthal, cheddar, or combo. I've used all of these with Gouda. (I have Gouda and fresh mozzarella in the photos.)
- 2 to 4 garlic cloves, chopped
- 4 strips of bacon, cooked until crisp and chopped. I've also used a large handful of good quality ham, chopped
- ¼ cup fresh chives or scallions, chopped. I've also used chopped white onions, cooked until translucent.
- 1 tablespoon fresh thyme, chopped. I also added rosemary.
- a handful of fresh spinach, chopped (my addition)
- ⅓ to ½ cup heavy cream, enough to moisten cubed bread
- pinch of nutmeg
- Preheat over to 350 deg F with the rack in the center. Dorie recommends a Dutch oven that is slightly larger than the pumpkin girth or to line a baking sheet with parchment. I've used a baking sheet both times because I like how the pumpkin holds its shape and can be seen full on when served. It is a bit soft to serve, but a wide-ish pan helps contain the mess after it's cut.
- Use a very strong knife, cut out a cap from the pumpkin top around its stem. Make sure the hole is large enough for your hand to retrieve seed scrapings.
- Clear the seeds and strings using your hands and a spoon edge. Season the inside with salt and pepper and place pumpkin on baking sheet/Dutch oven.
- Mix the bread, cheese, garlic bacon/ham, spinach, and chives/scallions/onions in a large bowl, tossing to make sure well combined. Taste and season if salt and pepper if needed.
- Pack the mixture into the pumpkin until well filled.
- Stir the nutmeg into the cream with some more salt and pepper, then pour it into the filled pumpkin. Dorie says it's ok to adjust the bread mix/cream. The ingredients shouldn't swim in the cream but they should be moistened. When my bread was more stale on my second go-round, I added more cream.
- Place the cap back on the pumpkin and bake for 2 hours, checking at around 90 minutes. If using a larger pumpkin (5 pounds), increase time to 2½ hours, checking for softening for doneness. It's done when everything is bubbling inside the pumpkin and the flesh is tender enough to be pierced with a knife tip, Dorie says. She also recommends removing the cap for the last 20 minutes so the liquid can evaporate and the stuffing can brown.
- Allow to sit 10 minutes out of the oven.
- Transfer to a plate carefully, if desired, for serving. I keep the cooked pumpkin on same small baking sheet, to avoid transfer issues or dropping a hot pumpkin on my feet.
- I sliced my pumpkin like a tall cake, to have a large bit of the sweet pumpkin along with the creamy. savory stuffing. Excellent!
- This keeps well in the fridge for a few days. Reheat in the microwave.