Pumpkin in a cake tin. As you do.
Another dinner date at mine, making use of the flowers and the tidy left over from The Ballerina’s dinner visit. One of this gang of 4, The Divine Miss K, had a wardrobe clean out and was sharing her bounty of shoes, jewelry and clothes with the other members of the gang.
The Divine Miss K is actually vegetarian, so I set myself the challenge of finding a roast vegetable dish that count take the place of a meat roast. So a roast dinner where a vegie dish takes centre stage as the hero. And as the 4 members of the gang do like French food, clearly it had to be a french food themed dinner.
After starting with Rachel Khoo’s Cervelles de canut (Fresh Cheese with Shallots and Red Wine), both the original and a Casa Moi adaptation, the main course revolved around stuffed pumpkin.
Prettiness that keeps on giving.
But not just any stuffed pumpkin, a recipe based on a family recipe from a pumpkin grower in Lyon. The original recipe had bacon in it, but it is customisable: as long as you have bread, cream and gruyere plus the herbs used, you can go anywhere with it.
I choose a pumpkin that fit perfectly into a cake tin, which was perfect: you do need something to contain any juices in case they overflow, but you don’t need a proper pan or anything. Just cover the bottom of the tin with baking paper, as if you were baking…a cake.
You have to cut a lid and then scoop out the “innards”, so all the seeds need to go.
To cut of the lid, use a sharp kitchen knife and gently stab down at about a 45 degree angle into where you want the lid. I found it almost impossible to cut at this angle, so you will need to keep “stabbing” down to mark out your lid and cut through the flesh until you have cut all the away around.
This pumpkin is…stuffed.
The lid will likely still be attached via the seeds, so as long as you have confirmed you have cut the actual flesh (by this point you’ll be able to run your knife around the lid), switch to a butter knife and use it to lever off the lid, working around the lid like it’s a paint tin.
Once that’s done, you need to scoop out the seeds and fibres attaching them to your pumpkin. I don’t have a history of Halloween pumpkin carving to inform me, so…I started with a serving spoon, down graded to a soup spoon and then finally got in with my hands. The soup spoon will allow you to cut through the fibres, but pumpkin seeds are tricky, slippery little suckers.
Even though it’s only a vegetable, that part of the prep actually made me squeamish.
Pumpkin dutch oven.
Serves ~4 with lots of pumpkin for leftovers, but not much filling. If you plan to serve 5-6, you could do it but you will need to dish out the filling equally to everyone’s plates and then start spooning out the pumpkin. The epicurious recipe may look like you can cut it in slices, good luck with that: you’d need a firmer filling that what this recipe provides.
- Pumpkin (22 cm in diameter)
- 100-200 grams of bread, cut into 1.5cm chunks
- 100gms gruyere, cut into 1.5cm chunks
- 3 garlic cloves
- 1/4 cup fresh chives: finely sliced
- 1/4 cup spring onions: finely sliced
- 1 tbsp fresh thyme
- 1/3-1/2 cup double/thick cream
- 1/4 cup pepitas
- A pinch of nutmeg
- Salt and Pepper to season
Preheat the oven to 180°C.
Toss everything – barring the cream and nutmeg – into a bowl and stir well. The recipe tells you to pack this into the pumpkin, mix the cream and nutmeg together and then pour in. I found the thick cream I had to work with, too thick, so I mixed the 1/3 cup into my bowl too, along with the nutmeg.
Then I stuffed the pumpkin with this bounty. It was quite easy spooning out the wet mix into the pumpkin with my trusty serving spoon. I used the lid to press it down to fit all the mix in, then poured a little bit of cream over the top of the opening and let that settle into the pumpkin.
Pop the cap on the pumpkin, then pop the whole thing into the oven for ~2 hours (mine ended up being in the oven for 2.5-3 hours due to timings of arrivals and entree).
You can use a skewer to test how well the pumpkin is cooked, from the outside. When there’s give, it’s cooked (but do make sure it is being evenly cooked in your oven).
Because I cooked my pumpkin in a springform cake tin, it was easy to open the sides and then slide the pumpkin carefully onto a platter. At that point you are dealing with a slightly soft, rather heavy and incredibly hot unwieldy behemoth. So make it easy on yourself, try not to set up a situation where you have to lift it onto anything. Sliding is much easier on you, and your pumpkin.
Pumpkin on the table.
Serve with broccolini, green beans and asparagus, quickly cooked and drizzled with olive oil. And ribbon sliced purple carrots fried with shallots, butter and parsley.
This dinner was epic. The dessert, supplied by the Baking Queen, was a a rum chocolate mousse. I will see if she will let me feature that recipe on here.
Off dessert, back to the sides.
As mentioned, this does serves ~4 with lots of pumpkin for leftovers, but not much filling. If you plan to serve 5-6, you could do it but you will need to dish out the filling equally to everyone’s plates and then start spooning out the pumpkin.
If you have pumpkin leftovers, spoon it out from the vessel and then turn it into soup. It’s delish 🙂
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