Thursday, October 27, 2011

Feeding Friendship: Stuffed Pumpkin

This round of Feeding Friendship features:
I'll tell you right now, I'm a BIG fan of October/Halloween/Fall. There are SO many fun things going on! Football, costumes, cooler weather, and of course - MY BIRTHDAY! (Perhaps I'm a little biased...) Needless to say I was very excited about the secret ingredient being pumpkin! I love pumpkin everything! Pumpkin pie, pumpkin spice latte, pumpkin frozen custard, pumpkin cheesecake, and so on. I bookmarked recipes for a week before deciding on this one. It doesn't get much better than actually cooking inside the pumpkin!

My dish was based on this one from Epicurious. (Note: the recipe says to bake for 2 hours. I saw this when I put it in the oven at 7 and freaked out. I took mine out at just over an hour and I'm alive to tell about it. I can see how it might have been better at 2 hours, but it was still awesome after 75 min or so.) Here's my version:

1  4-5 lb pumpkin (I used pie pumpkin, I couldn't find anything definitive about what type of pumpkin is best in such a dish)
Leftover bread (I used about 4 dinner rolls)
~1 c  chopped celery*
~1 c  chopped carrots*
1  cooked chicken breast, shredded*
 2-4 garlic cloves (I think I used 3, which was plenty)
1/4 lb  Gruyere cheese, cut into 1/4" cubes
1/2 c  chopped fresh chives
1-2 tsp  chopped fresh thyme
1/2-1 c  heavy cream
Salt and pepper

*If you're anything like me you hate seeing "cooked" anything in the ingredients list. The day before I made this slow cooker shredded chicken. 6 breasts yielded enough meat for dinner that night, this dish, and one other dish later in the week. I used the carrots and celery with the chicken, too, so I just chopped extra to add to the pumpkin!


Pre-heat the oven to 350-degrees
1) Cut a hole in the top of the pumpkin a la jack-o-lantern carving
Had to throw a scary one in. It's almost Halloween!

2) Clean the seeds and strings off the cap and inside the pumpkin.
This is me doing my least favorite part of pumpkin carving.
Mike retrieved the actual pumpkin carving tools we have and helped me finish!
Save those seeds! We're going to do something special with them later...

3) Add salt and pepper to the inside of the pumpkin to give it some flavor.
4) Mix together the bread, cheese, celery, carrots, chicken, herbs and garlic in a bowl. Season with a little salt and pepper.
5) STUFF it into the pumpkin! (I may or may not have had some extras and I may or may not have eaten them!)
 6) Replace the cap and place on a baking sheet covered with parchment paper. Bake on 350 for 1.5-2 hours. Remove lid for the last 20 min or so to brown the top.

7) To serve, scoop pumpkin bits in with the filling and stir around.

As for those seeds we reserved, rinse them off and let them dry on a baking sheet overnight. (NOT a paper towel, they'll stick to it!) Toss them in some olive or canola oil to coat and then sprinkle on some kosher salt. Bake at 250-degrees for an hour and 15 minutes. Voila!
A delicious, healthy snack! I even added a few to my salad!

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