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Mini pumpkins: so adorable and soooo ubiquitous around Halloween. You bought some to decorate. Your friend gave you some. Your kid brought some home from school. Now you are plagued by mini pumpkins that surround you and multiply. Fear not, you can crush your mini pumpkin enemy, see them driven before you, and hear the lamentations of the other pumpkins.
You can eat them.
This recipe is a savory preparation for pumpkin, because pumpkin spice is great, but I'm guessing you don't need more of it in your life right now. While I am using mini pumpkins, this is also a great way to use your average sized pumpkins as well. This recipe was inspired by Dorie Greenspan's "Pumpkin Stuffed With Everything Good" recipe from her cook book, Around My French Table.
4 mini pumpkins
8 oz ground Italian sausage
4 oz gruyere
4 oz stale bread
3 cups chopped kale
6 oz heavy cream
1 tbsp thyme
Pinch of nutmeg
Fire your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and bank your embers to the side. Let the oven rest with the insulated door on for 30 minutes.
Cooking the Sausage
Crumble your sausage in an iron skillet and cook with live fire (this can also be done while the oven is heating) for 5-10 minutes, or until it is fully cooked.
While your oven is firing and resting, carefully cut the tops of the pumpkins out just as you would for decorating. Save the tops. Scoop all of the stringy bits and seeds out and cut them off of the "lids" you created (this is the most laborious part of the recipe). Salt and pepper the inside of the pumpkins and set aside.
Slice the stale bread and cut it into 1/2" cubes.
Cut the gruyere into 1/4" cubes
Combine the sausage, bread, gruyere, and kale in a large bowl and season with 1 tbsp thyme, nutmeg, salt, and pepper.
Pour the cream into the bowl an ounce or 2 at a time, tossing the ingredients until they are moistened by not engulfed by cream. I needed 6 oz because my bread was really stale. You may end up using a little less (or a little more).
Spoon the filling into your pumpkins, using your spoon to pack the cavity tightly with stuffing.
Place the pumpkins on a baking sheet and replace the tops so the pumpkin is "closed".
Bake the pumpkins for 1 hour, preferably using an insulated door. After an hour, remove the tops of the pumpkins and bake for an additional 20 to 30 minutes. Removing the tops will help some of the liquid from the pumpkin evaporate.
The pumpkins are fully cooked when the flesh is tender and the shell gives under pressure. You can serve them with or without the tops.
The nicest thing about this recipe is that you can substitute ingredients endlessly to create a pumpkin stuffing you will love. Bacon instead of sausage? Sure. Cheddar instead of Gruyere? Great! Rice instead of bread? Go for it. Make it your own and enjoy!
Happy Halloween from all of us at The Bread Stone Ovens Company!