Pumpkin Fondue

Given my great love for pumpkins (and cheese!), it should come as no surprise that this is one of my fall obsessions. I make it every year. And it all began with my undergraduate advisor, who came to give a talk at Berkeley about five years ago. We were having coffee and discussing our various pursuits, scholarly and otherwise, and he mentioned this thing  to me, this pumpkin thing: “Well, you gut a pumpkin and then you fill it with bread and cheese and cream and then you bake it. Pumpkin fondue!” I looked it up as soon as I got home, and now it is a fall staple around here.

The wonderful part is that when you scoop out the bread and cheese, you get a nice chunk of pumpkin with it. It is glorious. The cheeses are Gruyere and Emmentaler, both favorites of mine.

Also, they look pretty gorgeous just out of the oven. You expect your academic advisor to lead you through the pratfalls of studying twentieth-century poetry, but but when he also leads you to your new favorite fall dinner, you know you’ve got a real gem.

Pumpkin Fondue
Recipe from Gourmet

1 (15-inch) piece of baguette, cut into 1/2-inch slices (7 oz total)
1 (7-lb) orange pumpkin (I use sugar or pie pumpkins, and it’s hard to find a 7-pound one, so I usually buy two 3-4-pound ones)
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
1 cup reduced-sodium chicken or vegetable broth
1/2 teaspoon grated nutmeg
2 1/2 cups coarsely grated Gruyère (6 oz)
2 1/2 cups coarsely grated Emmental (6 oz)
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 tsp salt.
-Whisk together cream, broth, nutmeg, 1 tsp salt, and 1/2 tsp 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. Pumpkin can be filled 2 hours before baking and chilled.

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