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Monday, December 29, 2008

Stuffed Punkin

Dinner party at a friend's. A friend who is pretty into hosting dinner parties for old friends, a league I'm honored to be included in. I've known the hostess since 9th grade and she knows me about as well as anyone who's not a blood relative can, yet she continues to invite me.

A couple of the guests I hadn't seen in over twenty years. We were last together in Youth Symphony back when the plains were black with buffalo.

Anyway, I braved some fairly scary roads with my honyocks to get to this shindig but my contribution to the pot luck made me late. Well, one of them. The sweet potato pie was ready to go, but I stuffed a pumpkin.

The Kansas City Scar runs a lot of recipes, and because it's on the break room table at work, I see them. It's not the foodie side of me, the side that subscribes to Cooking Light, it's the side of me that digs the Weird News and Zippy. They just happen to be in the FYI section where these recipes run.

So the first sweet potato pie was more or less the Scar's recipe. As was this stuffed pumpkin recipe.

Actually, I followed the pumpkin recipe much more closely, even using the cheese specified, Gruyère. Well, I added some Valdeón bleu crumbles for more bite.

Pie pumpkins turned out to be a scarce commodity. Since most people make them into pies for holidays that ended a few days ago, I'm sure the demand drops to zero. I found a few left at Whole Paycheck Market, though, along with the cheese the recipe actually calls for. Gruyère is about $20 a pound, and I'm pretty sure I could substitute Cabot Cheddar that's a fourth that price. But it is a delicious cheese. My thought is Gruyère when you're serving cheese & crackers, use something else in this recipe where any tangy cheese will get the job done.

For that matter, any winter squash would work. I may try stuffing acorn or butternut squashes next. Which is to say I was happy enough with the result to make this again.

Without the shuck & jive:

1 pie pumpkin (3 lbs), hollowed out
About 10 oz. croutons
1/2 stick butter
1 onion
1 tbsp. minced garlic
1 cup chicken broth
6 oz. (or so) shredded Gruyère
2 oz. Valdeón bleu cheese crumbles
1 tbsp. rubbed sage
1 tbsp. thyme
Salt & Pepper to taste

Sauté the onion and garlic in the butter, then add chicken broth and croutons. Toss thoroughly, adding most of the shredded cheese and bleu cheese, thyme & sage. Fill the pumpkin with the stuff. Bake with cap on for 90 minutes. Remove cap, top with remaining Gruyère and more salt & pepper, and bake for 20 minutes more to brown the top.

Slice & serve.

Anyway, the stuffed pumpkin seemed to be well received, as did my much revised sweet potato pie. The combination of good friends and good behavior on the part of my honyocks perfected the evening. I could have chickened out on the basis of the roads being crappy, but I'm so glad I didn't.

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