Halloween may be over, but pumpkins aren't just for putting scary faces on. Ever since Ruth Reichl introduced the Roasted Pumpkin "Fondue" to Gourmet magazine, I find myself looking forward to this time of year to make it. The pumpkin is stuffed with cheese, bread, and cream, brushed with olive oil, and baked in the oven to a burnished brown filled with bubbling gooey good stuff. What could possibly be bad about that!
Regular Jack o' Lanterns work fine, but my favorite is a cheese pumpkin whose flesh is creamier and sweeter. If you came to our dinner on Tuesday Nov. 4 to try it, you had a chance to take home your own cheese pumpkin courtesy of Roots to River Farm. Here's the recipe:
Roasted Pumpkin with Cheese “ Fondue”
Serves 8 (main course) to 12 (first course)
1 (15-inch) piece of baguette, cut into 1/2-inch slices (7 ounces total)
1 (7-pound) orange pumpkin
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
1 cup reduced-sodium chicken broth or whole milk
1/2 teaspoon grated nutmeg
2 1/2 cups coarsely grated Gruyère (6 ounces)
2 1/2 cups coarsely grated Emmenthal (6 ounces)
1 tablespoon olive oil
Preheat oven to 450°F with rack in lower third.
Toast baguette slices in 1 layer on a baking sheet in oven until tops are crisp (bread will still be pale), about 7 minutes. Transfer to a rack to cool.
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 1/2 teaspoon salt.
Whisk together cream, broth, nutmeg, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper in a bowl. Mix together cheeses in another bowl.
Put a layer of toasted bread in bottom of pumpkin, then cover with about 1 cup cheese and about 1/2 cup cream 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 1/4 to 1 1/2 hours.