Be sure to check out the SALES and CLEARANCE items on kitchen, home, and garden finds from my favorite home furnishing, food, and gift retailers 🙂
Baked stuffed pumpkin is a northeast tradition. It's also a dish rarely offered in restaurants, despite being almost as popular as the turkey is to the American Thanksgiving table.
As soon as sugar pumpkins would hit New Jersey farm stands in the fall, I always planned some variation of a baked stuffed pumpkin to serve at dinner, whether it ended up being a sugar pumpkin or another winter squash. Baked stuffed pumpkin is a northeast tradition. It's also a dish rarely offered in restaurants, despite being almost as popular as the turkey is to the American Thanksgiving table.
With every mouthful, your eaters will wonder exactly what all is packed into this clever bubbled-over 'icon of Harvest.'
I recall the first time I had seen a baked stuffed pumpkin. It was at a childhood friends’ home around Christmas. I remember asking why anybody would eat a pumpkin. I was maybe 6 or 7 years old, and perhaps thought pumpkins were for Jack-O-Lantern carving only, I don't know. Yet I do remember her explaining that while she and her brother went to Wightman's to select pumpkins just as my brother and I did, they were not allowed to carve them, as her father traditionally cooked their pumpkins after Halloween. I also recall asking my Grandmother about cooking pumpkins. Her answer was quick and matter of fact; during the Depression, nothing was wasted, so even the pumpkins got baked at Thanksgiving and Christmas. I now wish I'd asked my Grandmother what she remembers her mother stuffing them with, as I'd certainly have liked to know that now.
So, about the pumpkin....
While I've outlined the ingredients I used in developing my rendition of baked stuffed pumpkin, I have encountered others who prepare this fall treat based on their own unique stuffing ingredients. Bottom line, adjust the ingredients to suit your taste. For example, at one point, I considered using a smoked cheese such as a cheddar or a Gouda in this dish. I still think it would have offered great depth to the flavor, but never tried it. Experiment!
Once removing from the oven, allow to rest for about 10 minutes before removing from the baking dish and cutting into wedges.
One major tip I can give is to think ahead about what you plan to bake it in. I say this because the pumpkin will begin to collapse under its own weight in the oven after about the first hour of the bake. That is what you want to happen, but you don't want a flattened pumpkin at the end, so baking it in a close-fitting, snug dish is super important. I recommend either a parchment-lined small Dutch oven or a parchment-lined round stoneware casserole.
You want the pumpkin to fit snugly....
The pumpkin should fit snugly inside. You will want this because the sides of the baking dish will act as support once the sides of the pumpkin begin to soften and break down. Once removing from the oven, allow to rest for about 10 minutes before removing from the baking dish and cutting into wedges.
Ingredients for Baked, Stuffed Pumpkin
1 sugar pumpkin, approximately 1 to 1 1/4 pounds, 2 if you plan to double this recipe (do not use a larger pumpkin, as bake time will become obscured)
3 ounces shredded Gruyere cheese
3 ounces cheese curds, chopped (we are using Ellsworth Cooperative Creamery Cheddar Curds)
1/2 mini sourdough boule, cut into 1/2" cubes
1 whole garlic bulb
2 tablespoons olive oil (we are using Thea Olive Oil)
1/2 freshly grated nutmeg seed, plus additional to taste (we are using McCormick)
3/4 cup heavy cream
2 tablespoons Herbs de Provence
Salt and pepper to taste
Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
Cut the bulb of garlic in half cross-ways. Place on a sheet of heavy foil and drizzle with 1 tablespoon of the olive oil. Replace the top half and wrap tightly. Roast the garlic for 40 minutes and remove from oven. Once garlic has cooled slightly, pop the roasted cloves from both top and bottom halves into a large bowl. Pour any remaining olive oil from the foil into the bowl as well.
Reduce oven temperature to 350 degrees.
Wash and dry the pumpkin. Using a sharp knife, cut the top off the pumpkin, as though you were making a jack-o-lantern, and scoop out the seeds and fibers.
Using the remaining tablespoon of olive oil, rub the inside of the pumpkin all over. Generously salt and pepper and add the fresh nutmeg to the inside of the pumpkin by tilting to sprinkle. Rub so the seasonings are distributed all over. Place inside of a close-fitting parchment-lined baking dish. Set aside.
To the roasted garlic cloves and residual garlic oil, add the shredded Gruyere, cheese curds, the sourdough cubes, herbs de Provence, and another grate or two of fresh nutmeg if desired. Using your fingers, work the roasted garlic into the dry ingredients until evenly distributed.
To the bottom of the inside of the pumpkin, add 1/4 cup of heavy cream. Add the remaining 1/2 cup of cream to the stuffing mixture and stir well. Mixture should be wet but still somewhat crumbly. Spoon the stuffing mixture inside the cavity of the pumpkin. You may need to press down and pack the pumpkin to fit as much of the stuffing as possible. Do not over-stuff. Replace the top and tent with foil.
Bake at 350 degrees for two hours. Stuffing will expand within the cavity during the bake, so anticipate the pumpkin top to lift from the pumpkin toward the end of the bake, making for an appetizing bubbled-over edge. Allow the pumpkin to rest on the counter for 10 minutes before carefully transferring to a cutting board. Remove top and cut first in half, then each half into thirds. Serve the baked stuffed pumpkin wedges alongside your traditional Holiday table favorites.