Monday, December 13, 2010

In Honor of Pumpkins

I'm not really a fan of pumpkins.  At Halloween, they are messy to carve up & end up rotting before they get thrown away.  The texture of Thanksgiving pumpkin pie gives me the willies.  But, in the enjoyable series, The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency by Alexander McCall Smith, the protagonist Mma Ramotswe is always cooking up pumpkin.  I guess it's a staple in Botswana, where the book is centered.  (See bottom for a link to the book.)

So, when Farmer Barb gave us some pumpkins, I was willing to give it a go.  An internet search brought up a recipe for a pumpkin stuffed with bread, cheese, and bacon.  You can never go wrong with bread, cheese or bacon. As usual, I was missing several ingredients, but had the big three, so I figured I could improvise the rest.

The prep work didn't take too long once I scooped out the pumpkin guts.  Then the pumpkin sat in the oven for two hours while I mostly ignored it.  The results were delicious, the perfect blend of flavors.  I'm keeping this recipe in my fall collection.

Pumpkin Stuffed with Everything Good
(as I made it)

  • 4 pumpkins (the largest was cantaloupe sized, the smallest was softball sized) cleaned out and liberally sprinkled inside with salt & pepper.  Place on a shallow baking dish sprayed with PAM.  Reserve the pumpkin lids.

Mix in a bowl:
  • 1/2 box of Stove top stuffing, dry (why I have 1/2 box left over is beyond me.)
  • 2-3 dry pieces of bread
  • 2/3 of a lb of pre-cooked bacon that I had hid deep in the freezer so the kids wouldn't eat it.
  • 1/3 lb Sharp Cheddar Cheese, grated.
  • 1/3 lb Swiss cheese, mold removed & discarded, the remainder grated.
  • 2 tsp chives, freshly cut from my sad looking chive plant in the window
  • 1 heaping Tbsp diced garlic (from a refrigerated bottle.  If you don't use the refrigerated stuff, you are really missing out.)
Stuff that mixture into the pumpkin shells.   They should be relatively full.

  • 1 can condensed milk
  • 1/4 cup leftover heavy cream that is going to expire tomorrow
  • a generous sprinkling of nutmeg
Pour that over the mix in the pumpkin shells.   You don't want the stuffing to be swimming, but you do want it fairly moist.

Pop the pumpkin lids back on the pumpkin houses, then bake for 90 minutes at 350.  When the stove alarm goes off, but before the fire alarm goes off, check doneness by poking the pumpkins with a fork.  When the pumpkin is soft, it's time to eat.  It took closer to two hours to finish cooking.  But, I started checking at 90 minutes.  I also took the top off so the stuffing could brown up a little and any excess moisture could steam off.  Next time, I think I'll top it with a bit of swiss cheese at the end.  It took longer for the larger pumpkins to finish.  I just pulled the smaller ones out a bit earlier.

You can, of course, serve this at a fancy meal, giving each person one beautiful pumpkin on a plate.  Or, you can serve slices.  The stuffing firms up nicely and the combination is pretty.  But, I found it easiest to just scrape the inside of the pumpkin and serve the mess together in a bowl.

This recipe has lots of variation.  You can find the original with ideas at Sweet Or Savory: Stuff, Bake And Devour A Pumpkin

You can find the book(s) at B'ham library The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency  or at Amazon through the link below.


Your Majesty said...

Excellent! One of the 10 pumpkins rotted after it froze so there will be more for next year. I will give you baby plants to put in your yard if you would like for your garden if you did not save any seeds from the one you ate from this year.

They are called Sugar baby and grow VERY easy. As you remember mine were grown between pieces of concrete on the patio which kept them nice and warm. A bit of fresh manure helps them be bigger and as you know there is always plenty here at the farm.

Dawnette said...

EEk... I just reread this...just to be clear, the cloves are cloves of GARLIC! I'll fix that.