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Pumpkin Stuffed with Everything Good

Pumpkin Stuffed with Everything Good
By Jonathan Dye

A marvelous and simple recipe that celebrates the pumpkin in all of its fall glory. Feel free to adapt this versatile recipe to your taste. Use blue cheese with apples, sausage in place of bacon, walnuts or pecans, dried fruit even. Whichever combination of thoughtful ingredients you choose, this recipe is sure to provide your next fall gathering with intrigue and anticipation. This recipe is adapted from Around my French Table by Dorie Greenspan.

• 1 (3-pound) pumpkin
• Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
• 1/4 pound stale bread, thinly sliced and cut into 1/2-inch cubes
• 1/4 pound Gruyere, Emmenthal, or cheddar cheese (or a mix of all three), cut into 1/2-inch cubes
• 2 to 3 cloves garlic, split, germ removed, and coarsely chopped
• 4 slices bacon, cooked until crisp, drained, and chopped
• 1/4 cup chopped fresh chives or sliced scallions
• 1 tablespoon minced fresh thyme
• 1/2 cup heavy cream
• Pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
• Makes 4-6 Servings

• Preheat oven to 350 degrees with a rack set in the center of the oven. Line a baking sheet with a nonstick baking mat or use a Dutch oven that is slightly larger in diameter than your pumpkin (in which case, you will need to serve your pumpkin from the Dutch oven, as it may stick, but it will keep its shape better this way).

• Using a sharp, sturdy knife, cut off top of pumpkin, working around the top with the knife inserted at a 45-degree angle to cut off enough to make it easy to work inside the pumpkin; reserve top. Remove seeds and strings from cap and pumpkin. Season inside of pumpkin generously with salt and pepper. Place on prepared baking sheet or in Dutch oven; set aside.

• In a large bowl, toss together bread, cheese, garlic, bacon, chives, and thyme until well combined. Pack into pumpkin; it should be well filled but not overstuffed. You may need to add some bread and cheese or some of the filling may not be necessary to use. In a small bowl, stir cream and nutmeg to combine. Pour over filling; filling should be moist but not swimming in cream -- you may need to use more or less accordingly.

• Place top on pumpkin and transfer to oven; cook until filling is bubbling and pumpkin flesh is tender, about 1 hour and 30 minutes. Remove top and continue baking until liquid is slightly evaporated and top of filling is browned, 20 to 30 minutes more.

• Carefully transfer pumpkin to a serving platter (or serve in Dutch oven, if using) and serve.