The Art of Darkness

Beef Stew in a Pumpkin Shell

September 8th, 2011 by Cobwebs

If you planted pumpkins (and you’re in the Northern Hemisphere) they should be ready to harvest pretty soon. If you’ve got more than you need for jack-o’-lanterns, a fun and tasty way to use the extras is to serve stew in a pumpkin shell.

Obviously, the best pumpkins to cook with are the kinds meant for cooking, such as Cinderella, cheese, or sugar varieties. A home-grown field pumpkin (which is the kind usually used for jack-o’-lanterns) would probably also have enough flavor to be worthwhile, but a commercially-grown one is going to be pretty bland. If that’s the only kind you can find, you may want to skip cooking the pumpkin and just use it as a serving container instead of part of the meal (put it on a baking sheet and warm it in a 200F oven for about 20 minutes before putting the stew in it).

For the Pumpkin:

10-lb (approx.) pumpkin with no soft spots
2 Tbsp melted butter
Salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 375F.

Rinse any surface dirt off of pumpkin. Cut a lid in the top as you would for a jack-o’-lantern, angling the sides in a bit to keep it from falling in. Scrape out the seeds (save for toasting) and guts, making sure to get rid of any stringy bits.

If you want to get fancy, you can “carve” a face on the side by scraping features very shallowly into the skin. Make sure not to poke any deep holes. (You can also incise a pretty pattern if a jack-o’-lantern face isn’t your thing.)

Brush the insides of the pumpkin with the melted butter and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Put the lid back on and place it on a sturdy baking sheet. Bake about 45-60 minutes or until just tender when pierced with a fork (remove the lid and poke it on the inside to avoid marring the skin).

You can also use smaller pumpkins as individual bowls if you prefer; prepare as for the large pumpkin but reduce the baking time to 20-30 minutes.

You can bake the pumpkin(s) whilst the stew is cooking, or do it a few hours in advance and re-warm it in a 350F oven for 20 minutes.

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