Savory Stuffed Pumpkin with Sausage and Gruyère

Linus: “Each year, the Great Pumpkin rises out of the pumpkin patch that he thinks is the most sincere. He’s gotta pick this one. He’s got to. I don’t see how a pumpkin patch can be more sincere than this one. You can look around and there’s not a sign of hypocrisy. Nothing but sincerity as far as the eye can see.”  Charles Schultz, The Great Pumpkin

Don’t throw out your Halloween pumpkin!  You can stuff it with this delectable cheesy sausage mixture and bake it into the most satisfying comfort food.  I’ve often made a sweet stuffed pumpkin, my famous party pumpkin, but never a savory one.  Let me tell you, it is sensational.  It is reminiscent of a cheese fondue served in a pumpkin.  Love your breakfast bread pudding/casserole?  You can make your own recipe and bake it inside the pumpkin, following the directions below.  When this stuffed pumpkin comes out of the oven, get ready for oohs and aahs!  It is the equivalent to taking a soufflé out of the oven. Serve it with a green salad.

Savory Stuffed Pumpkin with Sausage and Gruyere

Adapted from thekitchn.com

INGREDIENTS

  • large baking pumpkin (approximately 5 to 10 pounds)
  • loaf day-old crusty bread, such as sourdough or French baguette
  • 1 1/2 cups (about 6 ounces by weight) Gruyère cheese, grated
  • 1 tablespoon canola
  • 1 pound cooked Italian or other sausage, diced(I used chicken apple sausage)
  • 3 large shallots, diced or 1/2 cup red onion, diced
  • 2 to 3  cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/4 cup dry white wine or chicken broth
  • 11 oz  container of spinach
  • large eggs
  • 2 cups half-and-half or light cream
  • 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt, plus more to taste
  • 1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves or 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme leaves
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese, for the top
INSTRUCTIONS
  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line a roasting pan with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat. Place the pumpkin on a flat work surface. Using a heavy-duty knife inserted at a 45-degree angle, carefully cut out a “lid” from the top of the pumpkin, creating some obvious angles that will make it easy to place the lid securely.  Remove any seeds and cut away any loose strings using kitchen shears. Transfer the pumpkin to the prepared roasting pan and set aside.

  2. Combine the bread cubes and Gruyère in a large mixing bowl and set aside.

  3. Heat the oil to medium and add the shallots and sausage, cooking until the onion is softened, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for 30 seconds. Increase heat to high and add the wine or broth, using the wooden spoon to scrape up any brown bits from the bottom of the pan. Reduce until the liquid is almost evaporated. Add the spinach and a generous pinch of salt; stir until wilted, 1 to 2 minutes. Add the spinach, sausage and onion to the bread-gruyère mixture.

  4. In a separate bowl, whisk the eggs, half-and-half, Dijon, 2 teaspoons salt, thyme, and pepper until combined to make the custard. Pour the custard over the bread mixture and gently toss to coat. Let sit, stirring occasionally, until absorbed, about 10 minutes

  5. Transfer the stuffing to the pumpkin, filling it all the way to the top. (If there is extra, you can bake it in a small dish on the side.) Fit the “lid” back onto the pumpkin, tent lightly with foil and transfer to the oven.  Pour water around the pumpkin to cover up 1” of the sides. ( You could prepare the pumpkin in advance to this point and hold off baking it until ready.)

  6. Bake until the filling is bubbling and hot, and the flesh of the pumpkin can be pierced with a knife. This can be anywhere from 1 to 2 hours, depending on the size and type of your pumpkin.  Remove the cap, stir the stuffing lightly, sprinkle  the parmesan and return to the oven for the final 30 minutes of baking.

  7. Carefully transfer the pumpkin to a serving platter. To serve, either scoop out the filling along with some of the pumpkin flesh(my preferred method) or slice the pumpkin into large wedges and serve.

Going into the oven

Coming out of the oven:

Still Life with Pumpkin, Plums, Cherries, Fig and Jug, Augustin Théodule Ribot, oil on canvas, 1861, Bilbao Fine Arts Museum:

Augustin Théodule Ribot, Still Life with Pumpkin, Plums, Cherries, Fig and Jug, oil on canvas, 1860, Bilboa Fine Arts Museum