As requested, I am including more recipes this fall. This dandy dinner casserole (I make a total of two casseroles. The other is a Christmas brunch delight.) came to me by way of one of Kent’s ex-girlfriends. Dinner in a pumpkin is hardly the only thing I got from said ex-girlfriend, though. I also got the story about how Ex’s sister washed her hair in a public toilet at an airport. That one often takes the trick in gross stories conversation. And then there’s the story of how Ex’s father ripped the VHS tape of Grease out of the VCR and smashed that devil filth to smithereens with his heel. For whatever reason, that story comes in handy more often than you’d think.
This is pretty tasty for a casserole, but the main attraction is eating out of a pumpkin. Kids ought to love it. Every other year, Fluffy has tucked into this like it was going out of style, but this year, when I pulled it out of the oven and scooped up her serving, Fluffy broke my heart. “Ew! That’s so gross–eating out of a pumpkin!” Whaaa?? Stupid Kindergarten. How dare they make my sweetheart too cool to eat out of a pumpkin? When I made her eat it, though, even she couldn’t pretend not to like it for very long. She loves squash, little bug.
Dinner in a Pumpkin
- 4-5 lb. pumpkin
- 1 lb. ground beef
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 onion chopped
- 1 cup uncooked rice
- 4 Tb. butter
- 1 tsp. salt
- 1/2 tsp. pepper
- 1.5 tsp. fresh thyme
- 1 tsp. fresh chopped sage
- 1 can diced tomatoes
- 2 cups beef broth
- 1/2 cup cheddar cheese, grated
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Wash pumpkin. Using a Jack-o-Lantern cutter, cut off the top creating a lid. Scoop out seeds and stringy fibers from pumpin cavity and lid. Brush the pumpkin flesh with 1 Tbsp melted butter and season with salt and pepper.
In a skillet, melt remaining butter. Saute beef, onion, garlic and rice in butter until browned, breaking up with fork. Add remaining ingredients except cheese. Stir and bring to boil. Place pumpkin in a baking dish or cake pan. Stuff pumpkin with beef and rice mixture. Replace pumpkin lid.
Bake until flesh is tender, about 1.5 hours adding more beef broth if top of mixture looks dry. The pumpkin should remain firm enough to hold filling without danger collapsing. Remove lid. Sprinkle inside with cheese. Return to oven for five minutes until cheese is melted. Serve from shell scraping some of the pumpkin pulp with each serving.
I know owning a potato ricer and a Jack-o-Lantern making kit will land me on the worst offenders list on the minimalist blogs, but seriously, those little serated bad boys do ten times the job a paring knife does on a pumpkin. Even the goop scoop is significantly easier to use than a tablespoon. Sure I could make this dish without specialty tools–but I wouldn’t. If it was going to be time consuming and slightly dangerous with that paring knife and make me get more intimate with that foul smelling squishy pumpkin pulp, I just wouldn’t make this dish. In this case, the Jack-o-Lantern tools are the difference between me making the dish and not.
Well not quite. Sometimes I skip the pumpkin and just toss everything together with some cut up butternut squash, add a little more beef broth (so the rice doesn’t dry out when the squash sucks up the broth) and cook it casserole style for real. In fact, I usually have so much filling, I have to do either two pumpkins or one pumpkin and one 9×9 casserole.