Roast Pumpkin Stuffed with Cheese 'Fondue'
4 as a main; 8 as a side
Ever since Chef Shelley Wiseman introduced me to this old Gourmet recipe, it's quickly become a perennial favorite of mine, as essential to autumnal eating as cider donuts and warming stews. The stuffing here is really more of a bread pudding than a traditional fondue, with the classic combination of Gruyére and Emmental merging with our Journeyman bread into a lush and gooey cloud – an absolutely fabulous accompaniment to the sweet and tender squash.
The burnished and brimming pumpkin makes for an impressive presentation at the center of a table when you have company (and will serve 4-6 as a substantial vegetarian main alongside a bright salad; or 8-10 as a side). That said, with hosting out of the question for the time being, we all could still use a bit of comfort: bake this up just for you and yours and enjoy it straight from the gourd while you sit in front of the tv on a cool fall night.
1/2 loaf Journeyman Five-Grain Sourdough (or 1/2 Pain au Levain or 1 Baguette); cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1 7-lb Baking Pumpkin, such as Long Island Cheese Pumpkin
1 1/2 Cups Heavy Cream
1 Cup Chicken or Vegetable Broth
1 teaspoon grated Nutmeg
1 or 2 cloves Garlic, finely minced
1/4 cup fresh Sage, chiffonade
6 oz. Gruyére, coarsley grated
6 oz. Emmental cheese, coarsely grated
1 tablespoon Olive Oil
Preheat oven to 375ºF with rack in lower third.
Toast bread cubes on a baking sheet in the oven, until beginning to dry and get crisp (though not browned), about 10 minutes.
Remove top of pumpkin by cutting a circle (3 inches in diameter) around stem with a small sharp knife. Scrape out seeds and any loose fibers from inside pumpkin with a spoon (including top of pumpkin; reserve seeds for another use if desired). Season inside of pumpkin with 3/4 teaspoon salt.
Whisk together cream, broth, nutmeg, garlic, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1 teaspoon pepper in a bowl. Toss together cheeses and sage in another bowl.
Put a layer of toasted bread in bottom of pumpkin, then cover with about 1 cup of the cheese sage mixture and about 1/2 cup liquid mixture. Continue layering bread, cheese, and cream mixture until pumpkin is filled to about 1/2 inch from top, using all of cream mixture. (You may have some bread and cheese left over.)
Cover pumpkin with top and put in an oiled small roasting pan. Brush outside of pumpkin all over with olive oil. Bake until pumpkin is tender and filling is puffed, 1 1/2 to 2 hours. Remove top for final 15 minutes of cooking to brown filling if desired.
Recipe adapted from Gourmet's November 2008 issue.