I always stuff my turkey for Thanksgiving however, after purchasing Dorie Greenspan’s book Around My French Table in 2010 I had to try her stuffed pumpkin. Since then I make it often for my family when making a turkey breast or turkey roulade.
However, if you don’t stuff your Thanksgiving turkey then you should definitely give this recipe a try. The stuffing resembles a savory bread pudding blended with cheese, bacon and cream, and when stuffed into a pumpkin, creates a unique and satisfying dish that I think everyone at your table will enjoy – not to mention wow their socks off!
If you haven’t decided on your stuffing yet for Thursday nights special dinner, give this a whirl, you’ll be glad you did. In fact, my guess it will become a Thanksgiving staple at your table in the coming years.
Here’s the recipe……………..
- 1 pumpkin, about 3 pounds
- 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 (to taste), split, germ removed, and coarsely chopped
- 4 slices bacon, cooked until crisp, drained, and chopped (optional)
- About 1/4 cup snipped fresh chives or sliced scallions
- 1 tablespoon minced fresh thyme
- 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. 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 but doable. My favorite way to cook and serve this is in a ceramic pie plate – it bakes well and looks pretty when served.
- 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.
- Serving: Slice portions or spoon out portions of the filling, making sure to get a generous amount of pumpkin into the spoonful.
Variations on Stuffing: Instead of bread, fill the pumpkin with cooked rice—when it's baked, it's almost risotto-like. Add cooked spinach, kale, chard, or peas (the peas came straight from the freezer).
Cook with or without bacon (a wonderful vegetarian dish), add cooked sausage meat or cubes of ham in place of the bacon.
Nuts are a great addition, as are chunks of apple or pear or pieces of chestnut
Around My French Table by Dorie Greenspan