This is a great dish for a cold Sunday in January. It’s rich and creamy with spices for the season. Prep it in the morning, pop it in the oven, and go to church or take the dog for a walk in the woods and it’ll be ready when you get home.
Plus, you can vary this greatly for different flavors or use what you have on hand. Instead of rice, you could use stale bread chunks. Instead of ground sausage, you could use bird meat — even leftover turkey. If dairy doesn’t work for you, use coconut cream instead.
The key is something meaty, something creamy, and a little something carby stuffed into a pumpkin.
What You Need
- 1 Pumpkin (small-ish)
- 1 pound ground game/sausage
- Rice or stale bread or crackers
- 1/2 pound of cheese cut into chunks or shredded– cheddar or your favorite
- 1 Onion diced
- 1/2 cup heavy cream
- 1 teaspoon ginger
- 1 teaspoon thyme
- 2 teaspoons oregano
- 1 teaspoon rosemary
- Ground cinnamon
- Cooking oil
- Large skillet — cast iron is good, or another that is oven safe
How much of each of these you use depends on the size of your pumpkin. You’ll need enough to fill the pumpkin and feed your crew. Don’t be afraid of making too much stuffing — leftovers make excellent burritos.
What You Do
Preheat the oven to 350°F.
Start by sautéing the onion in the skillet with a little oil. When the onions start to become soft, add the sausage and brown it, too. This is the time to season the meat, so make sure it’s salted and peppered to your liking.
While that’s browning, cut a lid off the pumpkin (like a jack-o-lantern) and remove the seeds. I liked the stem on my pumpkin, so I soaked it in water and wrapped it in foil so it wouldn’t burn in the oven.
Season the entire inside of the pumpkin with plenty of salt and cinnamon. You probably can’t use too much salt at this point, and you may add more at the table.
Remove the meat from heat and clean the skillet. Mix the meat with rice, about as much rice as meat.
Add the cream and cheese to the meat and rice, then add the spices and mix well.
Fill the pumpkin with the meat mixture, replace the lid and put on the skillet to catch any dripping. If you don’t have an oven-safe skillet, then put some foil on a cookie sheet.
Bake the oven at 350°F for at least 90 minutes. It’s done when you lift the lid and the pumpkin flesh is soft and tender. It may take more than two hours. If you’re going to be hiking longer, use a lower temperature.
Remove the pumpkin from the oven and take off the lid. Serve by slicing the pumpkin like a pie and serving the insides on top of the slice of pumpkin.
Leftovers. Take the flesh off the pumpkin rind and store it with the filling in the fridge. Refry the leftovers in a skillet and wrap them in breakfast burritos or eat them on their own.