How was your Halloween, pheasants? I’d like to tell you that I had the best Halloween ever, but I’m not sure that’s true. It wasn’t bad, though. M and I went over to her parents’ house to hand out candy and generally not be alone.
On the plus side, though, I roasted a pumpkin.
Pumpkin mania has finally hit this household, pheasants, and it started pretty innocently: we went to the pumpkin patch (at my behest) and collected two medium pumpkins, as well as one large and one (very) small. Then, we took them home, and I opened up supper down there to clean him…and I roasted the seeds. M had never eaten roasted pumpkin seeds before, and I had to practically pry the bowl of them from her in order to eat two or three. She’s been hooked ever since…she’s even taken to staring dreamily at the pumpkin displays whenever we go to the grocery store. And I’m not sad for this, pheasants, but far from it. I’m ecstatic!
I’ve got to say, whole roasted pumpkin is one of my all-time favorite holiday dishes. It’s something that just screams autumn to me: a whole squash, orange and shiny, fading as it roasts down to a burnt sienna with a gorgeous, burnished skin. M was quite pleased with the mini pumpkin I roasted a week or so ago, mainly because, once finished, it was so small and the skin so thick that it was practically an ornament, not just a cute pumpkin. She wanted to keep it, but keeping it…would have been really gross. So, we threw it away. By the way, we christened all the pumpkins we got from the patch; the pumpkin top left was named Gene, and the one below was named simply, Supper. There were also Ricardo and Harvey, but Ricardo was turned into M’s carving pumpkin and Harvey is way too big to cook.
This is Supper. Isn't he just clever?
Anyway, roasting a pumpkin is not only fun, but it’s easier than many people seem to think. Really, it’s so much easier than carving a pumpkin. Then, you just clean out the seeds (another reason to serve pumpkin for supper!) and stick it in the oven. Boom, done. Easy, wasn’t it? Well, you have to oil the skin, but that’s all of, what, two minutes, tops?
Anyway, pheasants, I am shamelessly endorsing my love of pumpkin and urging you to try a whole, roasted pumpkin sometime. There are so many things you can do with them, both sweet and savory. My personal favorite is a simple roasted pumpkin, flesh scooped out and topped with a little kosher salt and brown sugar. The salty/sweet mixture is delightful with the pumpkin, and really brings out that squash-y flavor, I think.
Try layering mushrooms of any kind (porcini, buttons, chanterelles, etc) together (try a mix!) and add a little truffle paste to make a truly scrumptious, sumptuous supper. Or, for a truly fascinating new take on a Thanksgiving pumpkin pie, try my pumpkin pie within a pumpkin recipe!
Within Supper up there, I layered tomato, celery, garlic, onion and spinach, placing about a quarter cup of chicken stock inside before capping him and placing him in the oven. When using vegetables like that in a pumpkin, go with smaller ones; they don’t have nearly as much water in their flesh, so you’ll end up with a stuffed roast pumpkin as opposed to vegetables swimming in a pumpkin water soup.
I can imagine that fruit would be good inside a pumpkin, too…maybe place an orange studded with cloves inside, and grate some nutmeg and cinnamon in there. Flavors are good, and pumpkin is just so healthy that it’s impossible to not look at it and think, I will love eating this. A pumpkin is a beautiful thing, pheasants!
Pheasant’s Roast Pumpkin
1 medium or small pumpkin (2-8 pounds, tops)
2 tsp vegetable oil
1/8-1/4 c. chicken stock or water
Set your oven to 375°F (191°C) and carve up your pumpkin. To do this, insert a sharp knife (facing away from you) into the flesh of the pumpkin 2-3 inches away from the base of the stem. Then, keeping your knife at a 45° angle, carve a circle around the stem. If it doesn’t pull away once it’s completely cut, go back again and make sure you’ve cut through all the flesh between the pumpkin and its cap.
Pull the cap off, and cut off the stringy bits (but NOT the meat.) Proceed to clean the seeds from the pumpkin itself. You don’t need to scoop out the strings…they’ll just cook down and they taste exactly like the pumpkin anyway. Once you’re done with that, place the pumpkin on a foil-lined baking sheet and dribble the oil over the skin, rubbing it around until the entire pumpkin is coated and shiny. Don’t forget to oil the cap! It may not seem like it, but those two teaspoons of oil will indeed cover the entire pumpkin. Once the oven is preheated, pour the water into the pumpkin, stick the whole thing into the oven(capped!) and let it roast in there for about 1-2 hours, checking at the 1 and 1 1/2 hour points to check the flesh. To do this, take the cap off and prick it with a knife. If the knife slides in easily and the flesh seems very soft (mashed potatoes consistency) then it’s done! If not, let it go for a while longer.
Roasted Pumpkin Seeds
1 pumpkin’s worth of seeds, cleaned of orange goo
Spread out the seeds on a Pam’d cookie sheet, and sprinkle with garlic powder and salt. Stick them in the oven with the pumpkin, taking them out every ten minutes to toss, until golden. If you have a convection roast option on your oven, this is a great time to break it out!
What types of stuffed or roasted pumpkin recipes have you created?