Pumpkin Stuffed with Everything Good

A few days ago, I posted about my upcoming Pumpkin Carving Party and mentioned I was going to make “Pumpkin Stuffed with Everything Good”. The original recipe is posted here. I stuck mainly to the recipe, but added some of my own flavors. This recipe idea really is as versatile as the poster said it was. Also, I served it as the main dish that night, and let me tell you, I was not missing a big hunk of meat or side dishes. It was perfect, people had seconds, and everyone asked me how they could make it. That is all I could have ever wanted! Sounds like a perfect night to me :)

Pumpkin Stuffed with Everything Good
1 pumpkin, about 3 pounds
Salt and freshly ground pepper
2 cups stale bread, cubed
1 block (about 6 ounces) Gruyère cheese, cut into chunks
5 garlic cloves, coarsely chopped
2 spicy Andouille sausage, cut into cubes and cooked in bacon fat (if you don’t have the fat, cook 1-2 pieces of bacon, and then add them in too)
1/2 cup diced onions
1/2 cup diced white mushrooms
1 tablespoon minced fresh thyme
1 tablespoon rosemary
1 pint heavy cream
1 teaspoon 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. The pumpkin will emit liquid, and you don’t want to ruin a pan. Remember, maneuvering a heavy stuffed pumpkin with a softened shell isn’t so easy. However, it is doable. The pumpkin looks a lot better free-standing on a plate and it also makes it easier to slice and get bits of the inside.

Cut a hole out of the top of the pumpkin (think Halloween Jack-o-Lantern). For this pumpkin, I decided to get creative and make a star shape in the top. Play around with it. If you are artsy/ skilled with a knife, you can probably make something really cool. Whatever shape you decide on, you want to cut off enough of the top to make it easy for you to work inside the pumpkin.

Also, it’s easiest to work your knife around the top of the pumpkin at a 45-degree angle. Clear away the seeds and strings from the cap and from inside the pumpkin. Scrape it as clean as you can get it. Rinse out the pumpkin with water, and set upside down on top of a paper towel for 20 minutes till completely dry. Season the inside of the pumpkin generously with salt and pepper, and put it on the baking sheet.

Next, toss all your pre-prepared ingredients (meaning garlic is chopped, bread diced, etc) in a large bowl EXCEPT for the cream. Add the spices, a little more pepper, and toss mixture again. Everything should be evenly incorporated.

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. The above recipe filled my pumpkin to the top.

Pour the whole pint of cream 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. For example, I decided to add a few more slices of bread near the top of the pumpkin to soak up a little excess of the cream.

Put the cap in place and bake the pumpkin for about 90 minutes (the flesh of the pumpkin is tender enough to be pierced easily with the tip of a knife). Remove the cap during the last 30 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—transfer it to a platter that you’ll bring to the table. I set the stem to the side for some festivity. And voila!

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