Yesterday I stumbled on this fantastic sounding stuffed pumpkin recipe on Epicurious. The lady who shared her recipe had this to say:
The idea for it came from my friend Hélène Samuel’s sister, Catherine, whose husband grows pumpkins on his farm just outside Lyon.
I was so smitten with the idea of replicating a dish that had been invented by a French farmer’s wife, I knew I had to try it for dinner. You can read the full set of recipe instructions at Epicurious, but you’ll realize quite soon that the recipe is more a “guideline” or “idea.” Today I’d like to share exactly how I made mine, but know that this recipe is perfect for tinkering with!
- One pumpkin (mine was 6 lbs, but the recipe suggests 3 lbs)
- Day old bread (about 1/2 loaf)
- 1/4 lb good quality cheese (I chose Beecher’s Flagship cheddar)
- Cooked sausage (I used two good sized chicken apple sausage links)
- 2 cloves finely minced garlic
- Fresh herbs, to taste (I found oregano on sale, but I think thyme or sage might lend itself better)
- Heavy cream (about 1/3 – 1 cup, depending on the size of your pumpkin)
- Salt & Pepper, to taste
- Pinch nutmeg
My QFC was selling these completely charming “fairytale” pumpkins, so that’s what I chose for my dinner. Different pumpkins apparently have different tastes, so do ask your produce manager if you need help. This one, if you’re wondering, had a distinctly earthy, squash-y taste (for lack of a better description). I imagine you could go with a pie pumpkin if you prefer sweeter.
Start by cutting off the top of your pumpkin much as you would a jack o’ lantern. This was a bit trickier than I thought! Take care with the knife, too. Once opened, clean out the sides and strings. Then season the cavity with plenty of salt and pepper.
The hardest part is over and your pumpkin is ready to be stuffed!
Next, take your day old bread. I found this French loaf on the markdown section of my QFC for $1.
Cube it into small, bite-sized pieces for your stuffing.
Next, your cheese. The recipe suggested Gruyère, Emmenthal, or cheddar. I decided to use Beecher’s Flagship cheese, which is a very flavorful sharp cheddar.
I worked to dice up my cheese roughly the same shape and size as the bread.
I decided to use apple in this recipe at some of the reviewers’ suggestion (and also because I had a half an apple in my fridge leftover from my son’s lunch!). I used a honeycrisp and again, worked to cut it in about roughly the same dice as the bread and cheese. I put all these ingredients into a bowl along with the cooked sausage, minced garlic, salt & pepper, and herbs.
This is the part of the recipe you could be really creative! Other variations I saw included: kale or swiss chard, bacon or ham instead of the sausage (or omitting the meat altogether for a vegetarian dish), rice instead of the bread, dried fruit such as cranberries, shallots, and/or nuts. You can really change up this recipe based on the ingredients that suit your preferences or what you have on hand.
As you might imagine, you stuff the pumpkin next. I put mine in a baking dish for stability.
This is how my stuffed pumpkin looked. You might need to add or remove some stuffing depending on how full it is.
Finally, add some cream and a pinch of nutmeg. The goal is to moisten the inside ingredients – you don’t want them floating in cream.
Put the top back on your pumpkin and place in a 350° oven. Now the recipe suggests cooking it for around 2 hours, but then again, the recipe also suggested using a 3 pound pumpkin whereas I used a 6 pounder! Mine ended up taking closer to 2 and a half hours. You’ll know it’s done when the pumpkin meat is tender (pierce with fork or knife to test done-ness). I also followed the original recipe idea of removing the top of the pumpkin the last 20 or 30 minutes to crisp up the stuffing a little.
Here’s my completed dish:
Imagine serving this on a platter for your Thanksgiving diner! Now wouldn’t that be a show stopper?
To serve, you can scoop everything out and mix it up, but I preferred to slice into my pumpkin and serve with the stuffing alongside, like so:
After baking your pumpkin for so long, you’ll find it’s completely soft and easy to cut through the entire thing with a sharp knife.
The flavors? Earthy, simple, rustic, hearty. I did go back for seconds! I would also make it again, playing with the ingredients and pumpkin choice to see what kind of flavors I could create. I imagine you could also turn this into a sweet dish by filling it with dessert type ingredients (sugar, fruit, nuts).
I would imagine a pumpkin the size of the one I made would serve many people. I have LOTS leftover in my fridge that I’ll no doubt enjoy today.
If you try this, I’d love to know what you think and what changes you made to the recipe!