BACK IN MY urban days, even after I had kids, Halloween was really an excuse for a bunch of adult friends to get together. We’d costume up our toddlers, sure. We let them walk around one block, before dark, collecting whatever candy they could from whichever adults happened to be home early from work, and then: We fed them mac ‘n cheese while we feasted. It was always a spirited fall potluck: maybe Chris‘ heavenly beef stew, some sides, a great salad, pie…it was perfect. My annual potluck contribution was a recipe I adapted from one Nigella Lawson ran in the New York Times for a baked and stuffed pumpkin, the inside full of spiced and fruited rice. I added ground lamb and a smidge of cumin to the mix, at least some years, and the result was always well-received both for flavor and beauty.
I was all set to make that dish again this Halloween, even though those fabulous Halloween potlucks are long since past, when I turned up at a friend’s for dinner this weekend. She’d invited us to bring our kids along, though her son is grown, and cooked things she thought the kids would embrace. Meatloaf? Yep. Salad? Maybe. Plum cake? Of course. But the dish she was most delighted by, one she was sure they’d embrace, my little rats snubbed entirely. Ah, well. More for us. Though I love my baked stuffed pumpkin, this Gourmet recipe, in all its unaltered glory, is utterly sublime. Not for the carb-phobic or faint of heart, it is special, and worth the indulgence it undoubtedly is.
Roast Pumpkin with Cheese “Fondue”
From Gourmet Magazine (R.I.P.)
Serves 8 (main course) or 12 (side dish
1 (15-inch) piece of baguette, cut into 1/2-inch slices (7 oz total)
1 (7-lb) orange pumpkin
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
1 cup reduced-sodium chicken or vegetable broth
1/2 teaspoon grated nutmeg
2 1/2 cups coarsely grated Gruyère (6 oz)
2 1/2 cups coarsely grated Emmental (6 oz)
1 tablespoon olive oil
Preheat oven to 450°F with rack in lower third.
Toast baguette slices in 1 layer on a baking sheet in oven until tops are crisp (bread will still be pale), about 7 minutes. Transfer to a rack to cool.
Remove top of pumpkin by cutting a circle (3 inches in diameter) around stem with a small sharp knife. Scrape out seeds and any loose fibers from inside pumpkin with a spoon (including top of pumpkin; reserve seeds for another use if desired). Season inside of pumpkin with 1/2 tsp salt.
Whisk together cream, broth, nutmeg, 1 tsp salt, and 1/2 tsp pepper in a bowl. Mix together cheeses in another bowl.
Put a layer of toasted bread in bottom of pumpkin, then cover with about 1 cup cheese and about 1/2 cup cream mixture. Continue layering bread, cheese, and cream mixture until pumpkin is filled to about 1/2 inch from top, using all of cream mixture. (You may have some bread and cheese left over.)
Cover pumpkin with top and put in an oiled small roasting pan. Brush outside of pumpkin all over with olive oil. Bake until pumpkin is tender and filling is puffed, 1 1/4 to 1 1/2 hours.
Pumpkin can be filled 2 hours before baking and chilled.
FALL FEST IS A cross-blog recipe (and tip) swap–and you’re invited to participate. Simply post your link or recipe or idea in the comments below my post, and also on the blogs of the other participants listed here. Want more information? Get the details (and the schedule for upcoming weeks). My collaborators’ goodies:
- Gilded Fork: Butternut Squash Bisque with Nutmeg Crème Fraîche
- Caroline at the Wright Recipes: Roasted Pumpkin and Winter Squash with Labneh and Skhug
- Alana at Eating From the Ground Up: Fall Vegetable Chicken Pot Pie
- Alison at Food2: Pumpkin Donuts
- Toby at Healthy Eats: Pumpkin 5 Ways (Including Seed-Studded Pumpkin Bread)
- Kirsten at Food Network: Best Pumpkin Recipes
- Michelle at Cooking Channel: Pumpkin and Squash Recipes
- Food Network UK: Praise the Gourd
- Cate at Sweetnicks: Baked Acorn Squash with Brown Sugar and Butter
- Caron at San Diego Foodstuff: Clay Pot Winter Squash