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.
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.
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.