Dorie Greenspan’s latest book is Around My French Table.  In this week’s sideDish, Good Food’s bonus podcast, she shares a recipe for a stuffed pumpkin dish.  Now, last fall Evan was making Ruth Reichl’s stuffed pumpkin/squash dish.  Dorie’s is similar in it’s presentation, but it’s filled with other goodies.

gf101027sideDish_Pumpkin_StuRecipe after the jump…

Pumpkin Stuffed with Everything Good
Makes 2 very generous or 4 more genteel servings

1 pumpkin, 2½–3 lbs
Salt and freshly ground pepper
¼ lb stale bread, thinly sliced and cut into ½-inch chunks
¼ lb cheese, such as Gruyère, Emmenthal, cheddar, or a combination, cut into ½-inch chunks
2–4 garlic cloves (to taste), split, germ removed, and coarsely chopped
4 slices bacon, cooked until crisp, drained, and chopped (my addition)
About ¼ cup snipped fresh chives or sliced scallions (my addition)
1 Tablespoon minced fresh thyme (my addition)
About 1/3 cup heavy cream
Pinch of freshly grated nutmeg

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 homey way to serve it. If you bake it on a baking sheet, you can present it freestanding, but maneuvering a heavy stuffed pumpkin with a softened shell isn’t so easy. However, since I love the way the unencumbered pumpkin looks in the center of the table, I’ve always taken my chances with the baked-on-a-sheet method, and so far, I’ve been lucky.

Using a very sturdy knife — and caution — cut a cap out of the top of the pumpkin (think Halloween Jack-o-Lantern). It’s easiest to work your knife around the top of the pumpkin at a 45-degree angle. 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. Season with pepper — you probably have enough salt from the bacon and cheese, but taste to be sure — and 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. (It’s hard to go wrong here.)

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, I like to 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.

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.

You have a choice — you can either 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. I’m a fan of the pull-and-mix option. Served in hearty portions followed by a salad, the pumpkin is a perfect cold-weather main course; served in generous spoonfuls, it’s just right alongside the Thanksgiving turkey.

It’s really best to eat this as soon as it’s ready. However, if you’ve got leftovers, you can scoop them out of the pumpkin, mix them up, cover, and chill them; reheat them the next day.

Bonne idée
There are many ways to vary this arts-and-crafts project. Instead of bread, I’ve filled the pumpkin with cooked rice — when it’s baked, it’s almost risotto-like. And, with either bread or rice, on different occasions I’ve added cooked spinach, kale, chard, or peas (the peas came straight from the freezer). I’ve made it without bacon (a wonderful vegetarian dish), and I’ve also made it and loved, loved, loved it with cooked sausage meat; cubes of ham are also a good idea. Nuts are a great addition, as are chunks of apple or pear or pieces of chestnut.

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  • thecrabbycook

    Wow. Excellent idea for all those pumpkins I never quite got around to carving pre-Halloween…

    • R pierce

      I made this over the weekend, out on our gas grill. INCREDIBLE!!!! I followed the recipe, my pumpkin was a little bigger so I doubled the ingredients. It took 2 hours on the grill. We had ribs too, but this really was just too good to stop eating. Went great with the cab that we were drinking

  • Deb Ross

    It might seem to be too much of a challenge to adapt this for a diet like mine (gluten-free AND dairy-free, not by choice but necessity) but I'm thinking to use rice or kasha instead of the bread crumbs, a bit more bacon or other meat like maybe sausage, some toasted pignolis, and instead of the cheese and heavy cream a creamy sauce made from soy milk and potato starch and flavored with garlic and herbs… lotsa veggies of course; sauteed onions come to mind, maybe green beans or broccoli, etc. I'm really looking forward to this one for Thanksgiving!

  • Dana DeMerritt

    EVERYBODY has totally loved this! I cooked for my husband & people at work (on my day off…& was I rewarded but Yum! compliments for doing that!?! very gratifying – of course I told them it had nothing to do with me, I just followed the recipe). My coworker Jordan was almost throwing money at me when he tried it & asked if I'd cook another pumpkin for him : – ))
    Question:: Anyone know if I have a 10lb pumpkin (all we could find!) do I double/triple the cooking time?
    And – can I do 2/3 of the baking tonight & 1/3 before work so I can bring it to him hot?… Pls advise a.s.a.p. and I appreciate any input (I figure I can test 'doneness' tonight and refridgerate, finishing tomorrow….any warning or agreement on this is appreciated greatly

    • Cristine

      I made this with a pumpkin from my yard – thought it was only about 5 lbs. – it was 10+. At 350 degree oven it took almost 6 hours!!!!!! I raise the temp to 375 after 3 hours cooking. Still came out absolutely wonderful! I'm growing smaller pumpkins this year.

  • seajohncook

    Dec 27, 2010.
    Received her book for the holiday and made this delicious recipe last night. Upon serving the table went silent…everyone was eating and Yums came forth.
    Yes, i'll be repeating this soon and will be planting more and different "pumpkins in 2011.

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    The big fish eat the little. – Italian Proverb

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