Pumpkins Stuffed with Everything Good
1 medium or 2 small pie pumpkins
Salt and fresh-ground pepper
1/4 pound flavorful cheese (I used Gruyere and Emmenthal), cubed or shredded
1/4 pound cubed bread, preferably a little stale
1/2 cup cooked wild rice, optional
2-4 minced garlic cloves
1/4 cup sliced scallions or chives
2 to 4 tablespoons minced herbs, one kind or a combination
1/3 to 1/2 cup heavy cream
Pinch nutmeg, optional
Preheat oven to 350. CAREFULLY cut off the top of the pumpkin and scoop out the insides. Liberally salt and pepper the pumpkin flesh; set aside.
Set aside a few tablespoons of cheese. In a large bowl, stir together all remaining ingredients, starting with 1/3 cup of cream and adding more if it doesn’t look wet enough. Taste to see if there’s enough salt – if you’ve used bacon or sausage you’ll probably have enough, but a vegetarian filling will probably need salt.
Stuff the pumpkins with the filling, and top with the reserved cheese. Place the pumpkin(s) on a baking sheet or in a low-sided casserole you can serve from, and slide into the oven.
Bake for about 90 minutes, then check for doneness. You want a thin-bladed knife to slide in with very little resistance. Small pumpkins will probably be done after 90 minutes; a large one may need another 30 minutes or so. Remove from the oven with great care, especially if you’ve got a large pumpkin on a cookie sheet; it’s going to want to slide!
To serve, you can present small pumpkins whole or cut in half (one whole small pumpkin is a very generous entree serving). A large pumpkin could be presented at the table and scooped into bowls or onto plates there. For the best flavor, whether eating or serving from the pumpkin, be sure to get some pumpkin and stuffing in each spoonful.
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