Diane Bucher's Stuffed Autumn Pumpkin
Pairs Well With
1 Sugar Pie pumpkin, about 3 to 4 pounds
Salt and freshly ground pepper
¼ pound stale bread, torn or cut into ½-inch chunks -- sourdough is our family favorite
¼ pound cheese, such as Gruyere, Emmental, or a combination, cut into ½-inch chunks
2 to 4 garlic cloves, coarsely chopped
¼ to ½ pound sausage, cooked through and drained, or 4 strips bacon, cooked until crisp, drained and chopped
¼ cup snipped fresh chives or sliced scallions, or ½ yellow onion, diced and sautéed in olive oil
1 tablespoon minced fresh thyme
1/3 cup heavy cream or ½ cup chicken stock, or a combination of the two
Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 350°F. Line a baking sheet with a silicone baking mat or parchment paper, or find a Dutch oven with a diameter that's just a tiny bit larger than your pumpkin or use a sturdy pie pan. I bake it on a sturdy pie pan so I can present it freestanding.
Using a very sturdy knife cut a cap out of the top of the pumpkin (think Halloween jack-o'-lantern). It's easiest to work your knife around the top of the pumpkin at a 45-degree angle. You want to cut off enough of the top to make it easy for you to work inside the pumpkin. Clear away the seeds and strings from the cap and from inside the pumpkin. Season the inside of the pumpkin generously with salt and pepper and put it on the baking sheet or in the pot. Toss the bread, cheese, garlic, sausage or bacon, and herbs together in a bowl. Season with pepper and pack the mix into the pumpkin. The pumpkin should be well filled -- you might have a little too much filling or you might need to add to it. Stir the cream and/or chicken stock and pour it into the pumpkin. Again, you might have too much or too little -- you don't want the ingredients to swim in in the liquid, but you do want them nicely moistened. It’s hard to go wrong here.
Put the cap in place (cover the stem in aluminum foil so it doesn’t get too dark) and bake the pumpkin for about 1.5 hours -- check after 60 minutes -- or until everything inside the pumpkin is bubbling and the flesh of the pumpkin is tender enough to be pierced easily with the tip of a knife. Because the pumpkin will have exuded liquid, I like to remove the cap during the last 20 minutes or so, so that the liquid can bake away and the top of the stuffing can brown a little.
When the pumpkin is ready, carefully (it's heavy, hot and wobbly) bring it to the table or transfer it to a platter that you'll bring to the table.
To serve, you can cut wedges of the pumpkin and filling; you can spoon out portions of the filling, making sure to get a generous amount of pumpkin into the spoonful; or you can dig into the pumpkin with a big spoon, pull the pumpkin meat into the filling and then mix everything up. Served in hearty portions alongside a salad, the pumpkin is a perfect cold-weather main course; serve in generous spoonfuls or wedges, it's a great side dish.
Other Stuffing Ideas:
I love to fill this with leftovers from the fridge. Instead of bread, I've filled the pumpkin with cooked brown or wild rice. I often add kale or other sturdy greens I’ve made it without cheese and cream for friends who skip dairy.
Makes 3 very generous servings or 6 side servings
Diane Bucher generously offered us a family recipe that pairs beautifully with our 2018 Bucher Pinot Noir. Her Stuffed Autumn Pumpkin is a dish she loves to make for her family when the weather turns cool and they’re craving a comforting, hearty dish. A whole Sugar Pie pumpkin is stuffed with a decadent mix of cheese, sausage and spices, a perfect foil for the fresh spiciness of Bucher Pinot Noir.