Ultimate autumn recipe: Stuffed Pumpkin

kmccarthy@ledger-enquirer.comOctober 5, 2012 

I usually leave the food blogging in the much more capable hands of my editor Dawn Minty (check out her blog Dawn's Dish), but I came across a recipe and I just couldn't resist sharing.

Though our weather can't decide whether or not it wants to be autumn yet here in the South, I made up my mind about a month ago that it is indeed fall and I'm going to act like it (minus the hooded sweatshirts, unfortunately).

I've made chili and a hearty homemade chicken noodle soup, cooked up some dumpling squash and have a butternut squash just waiting to be made into soup as well.

Then I came across this recipe for Stuffed Pumpkin, courtesy of the lovely Georgia Pellegrini, and decided I have to make it this weekend.

The recipe is below, but do yourself a favor and click the link above — Georgia has step-by-step pictures that will get your mouth watering and stomach grumbling in no time.

It would be relatively easy to make this a vegetarian dish (just omit the pancetta), but I'm wondering what (if any) other meats might also work — maybe ground chicken or turkey?

STUFFED PUMPKIN

Prep Time: 1 hour

Cook Time: 1 hour, 30 minutes

Yield: 4 servings

Ingredients:

1 head garlic

1 3-pound pumpkin, 2 1.5-pound pumpkins or 4 1-pound pumkins

salt and pepper

1 cup pancetta, diced

1 large leek, white and pale green parts only, thinly sliced

2 cups croutons or stale bread, cut into 1/4-inch cubes

1 cup freshly grated gruyere cheese, plus more for sprinkling at the end

1 tablespoon freshly picked thyme

1 teaspoon nutmeg, grated

1 teaspoon smoked paprika

1/2 cup heavy cream

Instructions:

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

2. Cut the root and top end off of the garlic head, drizzle with olive oil, wrap in tin foil and roast in the pre-heated oven for about 1 hour, or until soft.

3. Cut a circle around the stem of the pumpkin and remove the lid. Cut the seeds off of the lid and scoop out the seeds from the inside of the pumpkin. Season the inside with salt and pepper.

4. In a medium-large saute pan over medium heat, brown the pancetta to release the fat. Add the leek and sweat until soft. Turn off the heat and let cool.

5. In a bowl, combine the croutons, cheese, thyme, nutmeg and smoked paprika. Once cooled, add the pancetta and leeks and mix to combine.

6. Remove the roasted garlic from the oven and squeeze the cloves out of the skins. Roughly chop and add to the mixture.

7. Fill the pumpkin with the stuffing mixture. Pour over the heavy cream, put the pumpkin lid back on, and place on a sheet tray covered with a rack or a silicone pad to prevent it from sticking.

8. Bake for 90 minutes, or until the pumpkin flesh is tender and easily pierced with a fork.

9. In the last 15 minutes of cooking, remove the lid from the pumpkin and top the stuffing with the extra grated gruyere. Return the pumpkin to the oven, keeping the lid on the side of the sheet tray so the cheese can brown and bubble.

10. Serve warm, sliced into fourths, in half, or as individual pumpkins depending on their size.

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