Saturday, October 30, 2010

Day 300: Pumpkin Stew

This is a recipe I've wanted to make for years, but I've been to chicken to actually try it.  I was worried that my kids would hate it.  Now, I'll admit that I got some strange looks when I brought a whole cooked pumpkin to the table.  But it was a really fun meal.

Making this in the dutch oven presented some challenges.  I did the first step outside in my 12" oven.  The stew has to cook for 2 hours before it is put in the pumpkin.  Be sure to replenish the coals when they need it.  Since you want this to simmer, place about half of the coals on top and half on the bottom.  Keep an eye on it and add or remove a few coals as you need to in order to keep it simmering.  Don't be afraid to move the coals from bottom to top if it is boiling to much. 

The second challenge was that the recipe calls for this to be cooked in a 10-12 pound pumpkin.  I don't know about you, but I don't have a dutch oven that will hold a squash that big.  So I solved that by finding the shortest, squattest pie pumpkins I could.  I was able to barely fit 3 of them in my 14" dutch oven.  The others I baked indoors.

I found this in a Taste of Home magazine.

Pumpkin Stew
14" dutch oven

2 lbs. boneless beef roast, cut into 1" cubes
3 Tbs. vegetable oil, divided
1 cup water
3 large potatoes, peeled and cut into 1" cubes
4 medium carrots, peeled and sliced
1 large green pepper, cut into 1/2" chunks
4 cloves minced garlic
1 medium onion, chopped
2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. pepper
2 Tbs. beef bouillon granules
1 (14 oz.) can diced tomatoes, undrained
1 10-12 lb. pumpkin, or several pie pumpkins

In your 12" dutch oven, brown the meat in 2 Tbs. oil over a full spread of coals.  Add the water, potatoes, carrots, green peppers, garlic, onion, salt and pepper.  Cover and simmer for 2 hours with about 15 coals on top and 10-12 on the bottom.  Adjust the heat as needed to keep the stew at a simmer.  Stir occasionally. 

Stir in the bouillon and tomatoes.  Wash the pumpkins and cut a circle around the top stem.  Remove the top and set aside; remove and discard the seeds and fibers from inside the pumpkin.  Make sure it is nice and clean inside.  Place the pumpkins in a 14" dutch oven (or a shallow baking pan if cooking indoors).  Spoon the stew into the pumpkins and replace the top.  Brush the outside of the pumpkins with remaining oil.  Bake at 325° for 2 hours or just until the pumpkin is tender (do not over bake).  Use 1 1/2 rings on top and 1 ring on the bottom.  Serve the stew from the pumpkin, scooping out a little pumpkin with each serving.  Serves 8-10.

The Finished Product

The Review

I was really surprised by how good this was.  There is very little liquid in the stew to begin with, and the pumpkin soaks up the rest as it cooks, so it is very thick.  I was shocked at how much my kids liked it.  My 2 youngest wouldn't even touch it, but everyone else liked it.  I will say that I liked the ones I cooked in the pie pumpkins best.  I used a small carving pumpkin for the stew I cooked indoors, and it didn't taste as good as the pie pumpkins.  So next year I'll use the pie pumpkins again.  I think there is a better stew recipe out there though.  Don't get me wrong, we really liked this, but we like stew with a little more liquid.  And maybe the lack of liquid is just inherent in baking stew in a pumpkin.  But I'm going to do some experimenting for next year!  We gave this a B+.

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