This is the ultimate slightly-indulgent, festive, holiday dish. It's hard to go wrong with bread, cheese, garlic and heavy cream. Frankly, you don't need much else to make something delicious (maybe butter).
To describe this as a "crowd pleaser" puts all understatements to shame. And the recipe is so easy that it almost feels like cheating. Yes, it's delicious (see bread, cheese, and cream), but this is a dish that looks incredible uncooked as well as out of the oven.
The pumpkin gets soft and delicate. The cheese makes everything good. The garlic and herbs cut through the richness, the cream adds a velvety texture.
This recipe comes from the queen of all good things, Dorie Greenspan. Every recipe of hers that I've ever tried is both 1) delicious 2) works as written. I'm particularly fond of Around My French Table, but she is very well known for her desserts, and even has a new book on the topic. There's also a great interview with her in the current issue of Lucky Peach.
I only tweaked the recipe slightly. By tweaked, I mean I more or less eye-balled amounts as opposed to filling each pumpkin exactly as directed. Plus, we used smaller pumpkins than the one's Dorie uses. I like these sweet little pumpkins. We served this at Thanksgiving, amongst an abundance of other rich dishes; but if you're using the smaller pumpkins, you could even serve one per person. These were gone in minutes. Zero leftovers.
Stuffed Pumpkins à la Dorie Greenspan
Slightly adapted from this
Serves 4-6 (The recipe can easily be doubled and tripled; I tripled the recipe)
2 1.5 lb. pumpkins
salt and pepper, to taste
1/4 lb. GOOD quality stale bread, cut into .5-1-inch cubes (crusts can even be left on)
1/4 lb. Grueyére and/or cheddar (I used both!), cut into .5 1-inch cubes (same size as bread)
2-4 garlic cloves, roughly minced
1/4 cup chopped chives
1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves (removed from stem)
1 teaspoon chopped rosemary
1/3 cup heavy cream
freshly grated nutmeg, to taste
Preheat the oven to 350°F.
Line a baking sheet with parchment or foil. If you're using a big pumpkin, you'll want a casserole dish or something that will hold the pumpkin in place. These little guys held up perfectly on a baking sheet.
Using a very sharp large nice, CAREFULLY, cut off the top 1/4 of the pumpkin. You want to cut far enough in that you get to the opening with all its seeds, but not too far as to halve the pumpkin. You're making a lid for the pumpkin like you would for a Halloween Jack-o-Lantern. Scoop out the seeds and strings from the cap and from inside of the pumpkin. Season the inside of the pumpkin generously with salt and pepper (this is your chance to season the meat of the pumpkin!).
In a large bowl, toss the bread cubes, cheese cubes, garlic, and herbs together. Season with more pepper. Fill each pumpkin with the bread and cheese mixture. You should have plenty, but you can always make more filling if the pumpkins aren't full. You want them full, but don't force/pack it in... just gently fill each one fully.
In a liquid measuring cup, combine the heavy cream with freshly ground nutmeg. I love the flavor of nutmeg, but if you don't you can omit it. Pour a little cream into each pumpkin. You just want to moisten the mixture, but you don't want it to be too soupy.
Put the cap back on top of the pumpkin and bake for 2 hours (checking on it after 90 minutes). For the last 20 minutes of cooking, remove the cap so that the inside can brown a little. You want the pumpkin flesh to be completely tender and for the cheese to be bubbling.
When the pumpkin is ready, very carefully bring it to the table or transfer it to a platter that you'll bring to the table.
I served these whole, and people scooped out the pumpkin and cheese and bread filling. You can also cut it into big wedges (that will ooze out cheese). This is perfect for a holiday meal, or a cold winter night.