baked pumpkin stuffed with bread and cheese
I’ve developed a bit of a thing for this baked pumpkin. It all started back in October. We’d planned a Halloween party and I had my heart set on baking something — maybe soup — inside a pumpkin, mostly because I thought it would look cool. But really. Who wants to stand around at a party eating soup? So I scrapped the baked pumpkin idea and then, when Chris got sick, the party itself. Which worked out rather nicely, because you know what’s great for sick people? Soup.
I’d originally intended to fill the pumpkin with cream and gruyère, but my cheesemonger sent me home with three other fancy cheeses and this recipe in Gourmet persuaded me to add bread to the mix, making the resulting dish less a soup than a warm bowl of soft, gooey cheesy goodness.
And when the weather forecasters can talk of nothing but lake effect snow and wind chill factors, and icicles the size of your arm hang menacingly from your rooftop, cheesy goodness might be the only way (short of a trip to Hawaii) to lift your spirits. Which helps to explain why I’ve now made this four times in as many weeks.
Plus there’s garlic — deliciously mellow roasted garlic, lending its carmelized sweetness to the melted cheese and bubbling cream that soften the bread and flavor the pumpkin flesh. Seriously, yum.
I think we can all agree that this bowl of mush isn’t about to win any beauty contests, but it’s certainly the tastiest, most comforting bowl of mush ever to grace our table. And if that weren’t enough, I have the added satisfaction of watching Mr. I-Hate-Vegetables gobble up pumpkin like it’s, well, frozen pizza. Which is almost heart-warming enough to make me forget about the ice and snow.
Baked Pumpkin Stuffed with Bread and Cheese
adapted from Gourmet
3-4 lb. pumpkin (the kind for baking, not for carving)
¾ t. salt
12″ piece of baguette, sliced into ¼” slices
1½ c. melting cheese (I used a combination of comté, appenzeller, & emmental), sliced or grated
1 c. heavy cream
½ c. chicken or vegetable stock
¼ t. nutmeg
¼ t. pepper
1 bulb garlic
1 T. olive oil
1) Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Peel some of the papery skin from the bulb of garlic, leaving only a thin layer. Trim the top off the garlic bulb to expose each clove. Place the bulb in a small roasting pan and drizzle the olive oil over the garlic. Roast for about an hour, or until the garlic can be easily pierced with a knife. Remove from oven and allow to cool.
2) Meanwhile, remove the top of the pumpkin by cutting a small circle around the stem with a sharp knife. Then scrape out the seeds and stringy flesh from the inside of the pumpkin. (This is a lot easier if you use the tools from your pumpkin-carving kit.)
3) Toast the baguette slices in one layer on a baking sheet in a 450 degree oven for about 8 minutes. The crisper they are, the more they’ll retain a bit of their texture as they bake in the pumpkin (which is a good thing).
4) Whisk together the cream, stock, nutmeg, ½ t. salt and pepper. Squeeze 4-6 cloves of roasted garlic into the mixture and blend well. (save the rest of the roasted garlic for something else, like smearing on leftover slices of the baguette)
5) Sprinkle ¼ t. salt inside the pumpkin and then place a layer of toasted bread on the bottom of the pumpkin, then cover with a layer of cheese and about 1/3 c. of the cream mixture. Continue layering bread, cheese, and cream until the pumpkin is full, leaving about ½” at the top. Cover the pumpkin, brush with olive oil, place in an oiled roasting pan, and bake in a 450 degree oven for about an hour and a half.
6) To serve, scrape the pumpkin flesh from the sides of the pumpkin and scoop the mixture into warmed bowls.