Playing House: Part Two
Savory Stuffed Pumpkin, a la Dorie
give fresh life or strength to
restore, rejuvenate, regenerate
Red Kuri SquashMy Baby and I were sinking in to our stay-at-home "play house" day. My cookbook collection needs a permanent home in this house, so we measured walls and discussed ideas for an upcoming bookcase project. Talk was made about mowing the two acres of hirsute lawn for the last time of the season, but the cursory intervals of dry weather kept it at only talk. The dining table-cum-home office desk was cleared of several days worth of paperwork, and set with finery in anticipation of our renewing weekend feast.
The house was taking on pleasing scents of freshly cut herbs, the splayed mist of lemon oil being stripped from its pith and roasting chicken.
Earlier in the week, I'd been inspired by Dorie Greenspan's recipe for Pumpkin Packed with Bread and Cheese: A Recipe in Progress. Dorie was given the concept from a friend, who asked her to improve upon it. That is a spirit about cooking which I so appreciate. By taking ideas a step further, food ideas and "recipes" are always fresh and evolving. Rather than issuing recipe edicts, Dorie respectfully submits her concept with full expectation of that evolution, which in my opinion makes it all the more easy to give her credit for inspiration.
I noted in Dorie's photo (above) the filling had more of a curdly cooked cream texture than I wanted in mine, so I adapted her recipe. I kept the flavor profile nearly the same, just played with the texture a bit. I loved the savory bread pudding-like results and will repeat the concept again and again.
Rather than spell it out again, click here for Dorie's recipe. Here's how I adapted it, and what I learned along the way:
- Dorie warns that if you roast the pumpkin in a Dutch oven or casserole rather than a lined baking sheet it will help hold its shape, but will stick to the pan, making it more scoop-able than sliceable and therefore rustic in presentation. I overcame this obstacle by spraying my stoneware baker with cooking spray. No sticking; nice pretty serving slices.
- Dorie emphasizes that cutting the cap off the pumpkin "isn't an easy job." Killing two birds with one stone, I microwaved the pumpkin twice at three minute intervals, waiting 5 minutes or so between each. The knife easily slips into the par-baked gourd, and cuts some time off the overall roast as well.
- I created a custard with the cream by adding two eggs and mixing well with the salt, pepper and freshly grated nutmeg. To this, I stirred in the remainder of the ingredients along with two big handfuls of raw sliced chard, then packed the mixture into the pumpkin cavity.
- Dorie sets her oven temperature at 350˚. Because I was simultaneously roasting a chicken at 450˚, the pumpkin was subjected to that temperature too. The result, as you notice in the difference between our photos, is that the bright reddish-orange skin of my pumpkin browned and blistered significantly. I knew this may happen, and being a one-oven kitchen, I opted for a crisp-skinned chicken over the unmarred pumpkin. The browned skin was barely noticeable with my sliced presentation at the table, and it tasted fabulous.
The day was shaping up to fill my need for domestic connection and renewal of energy. Next, I'll be discussing the process for our chicken, which was juicy and crispy-skinned with a herbal depth of flavor, and the impressive Pinot Gris My Baby selected as a gracious complement to the meal.