Ok guys, I have been meaning to talk about this one for almost TWO MONTHS now. Two months aka. Thanksgiving time. I’ve seriously been slacking! Anyhow, I’d been wanting to make this for so long ever since I’d seen it on Dorie Greenspan’s website. The idea is completely fantastic! I wish I’d thought of it before. A tenderly baked sugar pie pumpkin stuffed with oooey-gooey yummy cheeses, bread, garlic, and herbs? Sign me up! I made this as an appetizer, and for leftovers it easily turned into a great meal with a nice blob of cranberry sauce (or any other kind of jam… pumpkin butter would also be great!) on the side and some crackers. All in all, it just took a few simple ingredients to come together into one, and I realized it was pretty darn simple to make. It took approximately 1 hour or so to bake until the flesh turned soft (with the stem/lid on), and then I removed the top and let the cheeses and bread brown slightly before I took it out of the oven. And man, did that thing retain its temperature! It was warm for the rest of the evening. Seriously, best thing ever. I about died and went to heaven with every bite I took. I either dug right into it with a fork, or scooped it out with other chunks of bread or a cracker. I’ll definitely be making this more often–experimenting and adding in different cheeses, maybe some bacon, chives, who knows. It makes me wish sugar pie pumpkins were available year round. It’s a great cold-winter meal that you could pair well with a nice green salad. MAKE THIS. YOU WILL NOT REGRET IT!
Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Either line a baking sheet with parchment or a silicone baking mat or find a Dutch oven that’s the same diameter as the pumpkin. (If you bake the pumpkin in a casserole, it will keep its shape, but it will also stick to the casserole, so you’ll have to serve it from the pot, which is a rustic, appealingly homey way to serve it. If you bake it on a sheet, you can present it free-standing, if it doesn’t collapse in the oven. I was lucky this time, but when I make it again tonight with a larger pumpkin, I’m not going to push my luck – I’m going to put it in a Dutch oven.)
Using a very sturdy knife, cut a cap off the top of the pumpkin. This isn’t an easy job – I went around the top of the pumpkin with my knife at a 45-degree angle to get a nice size cap. Clear away any seeds and strings from the cap and hold it aside while you scoop out the seeds and filaments inside the pumpkin. (Hold onto this goop — you can separate the seeds from the filaments and roast them.) Season the inside of the pumpkin with salt and pepper and put it on the sheet or in the casserole.
Now you have a choice, you can either toss the bread, cheese and garlic together in a bowl, then pack it into the pumpkin, or you can alternate layers of bread and cheese and scatter the garlic here and there. (I mixed everything together.) Either way, the filling should go into the pumpkin and fill it well. You might have a little too much filling or you might need to add to it — it’s hard to give exact amounts. Season the cream with salt, pepper and several gratings of fresh nutmeg and pour the cream into the pumpkin. Again, you might have too much or too little. You don’t want the ingredients to swim in cream, but you do want to get a feeling that they’re moistened.
Put the cap back in place and bake the pumpkin for about 2 hours — check after 90 minutes — or until everything inside the pumpkin is bubbly and the flesh of the pumpkin is tender enough to be pierced easily with the tip of a knife. I removed the cap during the last 20 minutes or so of baking so that the top could brown.