Every year, I grow a great variety of pumpkins and squashes in my garden.
Most are used for autumnal decorating projects, of course, but some are also excellent for eating, and I love to save a few specimens of the extra-special culinary Cucurbita (the botanical name for the genus) for a cooking project or two.
Last autumn I harvested some very beautiful heirloom pumpkins known as “Long Island Cheese.” These pumpkins grow medium to large in size, have a flattened, moderately ribbed shape, and do actually resemble a wheel of cheese.
Its pinkish-tan skin holds up well during cooking. For that reason, I decided to use it as the “pot” for a delicious pumpkin stew.
The recipe, by Pierre Schaedelin, is a delicious mix of fall vegetables that are roasted and then combined with browned and roasted chicken pieces.
RECIPE: STUFFED PUMPKIN STEW
Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
10Brussels sprouts, trimmed
6ounces green beans, trimmed
4ounces sugar snap peas, trimmed
1cheese pumpkin (about 10 pounds), seeded, top reserved
3/4cup plus 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil, plus more as needed
10chicken thighs and legs, skin-on
1cup homemade or store-bought low-sodium chicken stock
2tablespoons unsalted butter
3medium crisp baking apples (any type), cored and quartered
1jar (7 ounces) vacuum-packed whole peeled chestnuts
12ounces baby white potatoes, quartered
2leeks, halved, light-green and white parts only, rinsed well and cut diagonally into 1 1/2-inch-thick slices
5carrots, cut diagonally into 1-inch-thick slices
2turnips, cut into eighths
4parsnips, cut diagonally into 1-inch-thick slices
1/2medium butternut squash, seeded and cut into 1-inch cubes
1/2celery root, peeled and cut into 1-inch cubes
2tablespoons thinly sliced garlic
1/2cup packed fresh flat-leaf parsley, coarsely chopped
Prepare an ice-water bath. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add Brussels sprouts and cook until bright green and crisp-tender, about 2 minutes. With a slotted spoon, transfer to ice-water bath. Repeat with green beans and snap peas. Drain.
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Rub inside of pumpkin and the cut side of its top with 3 tablespoons oil. Place pumpkin and top on a parchment-lined baking sheet and roast until they are tender but still holding shape, about 1 hour.
Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Season chicken generously with salt and pepper. Working in batches, cook chicken until golden brown, 3 to 4 minutes per side. Remove excess fat from skillet. Repeat with remaining chicken, adding 1 tablespoon oil to skillet with each batch. Place chicken on a baking sheet. Add stock to skillet, and bring to a boil, scraping bottom. Pour stock into a small bowl.
Roast chicken until golden brown and cooked through, about 40 minutes. Reserve pan juices.
Heat butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add apples and cook, stirring occasionally, until golden and softened, about 10 minutes. Stir in chestnuts and remove from heat.
Combine potatoes, leeks, carrots, turnips, parsnips, squash and celery root in a large bowl. Toss with remaining 1/2 cup oil, and season with salt and pepper. Spread vegetables in a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet and roast until golden and tender, about 40 minutes. Add Brussels sprouts, green beans, snap peas, apple mixture and the garlic, and toss. Roast until garlic is golden brown and vegetables are heated through, about 10 minutes.
Combine chicken, vegetables, parsley, stock and 2 tablespoons reserved pan juices in a large bowl. Place mixture in pumpkin and roast until heated through, about 15 minutes. Slice pumpkin into wedges and serve with some stew.
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