The way we see it, if you’re not eating straight out of a gourd at least once during the month of October, you’re doing it wrong. If you need inspiration, look no further than this whole roasted pumpkin stuffed with wild mushrooms and Gruyère, from chef Danielle Alvarez’s upcoming cookbook, Always Add Lemon.
“I first made this pumpkin for a last-minute booking a friend made at the restaurant,” Alvarez writes. “Normally, we go to the trouble of ordering something special for our regulars and friends, but since they booked last-minute, we had to use what we had. And what we had was a gorgeous pumpkin that looked like it belonged in a fairytale—I knew we had to serve it whole.”
Unfortunately, Alvarez's friend canceled, but since the gourd was already cooked, she decided to serve a piece to everyone at the restaurant that night. “The delight in the guests’ eyes when we popped the lid off and scooped out the glorious mix of mushrooms, cheese and pumpkin was something to behold,” she says.
If you use a bigger pumpkin, Alvarez notes, you'll need to scale up the amount of filling and allow for exponentially longer cooking times, since the heat takes longer to reach the center.
Recipe excerpted with permission from Always Add Lemon by Danielle Alvarez, published by Hardie Grant Books, November 2020.
1½ tablespoons (20g) unsalted butter
2 onions, thinly sliced
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
7 ounces (200g) wild mushrooms (such as chanterelle, porcini and slippery jack) cleaned and sliced
1¾ fluid ounces (50mL) white wine
6 thyme sprigs, leaves picked and roughly chopped
6 ounces (170g) stale bread, sliced
One 4-pound (1,800g) heirloom-variety pumpkin (winter squash)
3½ fluid ounces (100mL) heavy cream
3½ fluid ounces (100mL) mushroom, vegetable or chicken stock
2 ounces (60g) grated Gruyère cheese
Cayenne pepper, for sprinkling
1 tablespoon grated Parmesan
Extra-virgin olive oil, for rubbing
1. Heat the butter in a skillet over medium-low heat. Add the onions with a pinch of salt and pepper, and cook them gently and slowly until they are caramelized, 15 to 20 minutes. Add the mushrooms and wine with another pinch of salt, and sauté until the mushrooms release their juices, are cooked and the liquid has reduced to almost dry, 5 to 7 minutes. Add the thyme taste for seasoning before setting aside.
2. Toast the bread until lightly golden or just a bit crisp. Set aside.
3. Cut around the stem of the pumpkin to make a hole in the top roughly the same size as the palm of your hand (you need to be able to reach in and scoop out the flesh). Pull the top off gently, then scrape out the seeds and pulp on the inside and discard. Season the inside of the pumpkin with salt and pepper.
4. Preheat the oven to 425°F. Combine the cream and stock in a saucepan and heat until just below simmering. Begin layering the mushroom and onion mixture, bread, cheese, and cream and stock into the pumpkin, sprinkling the bread with salt and pepper and a pinch of cayenne. Repeat until all ingredients have been used and the pumpkin is filled generously. (You don’t want it exploding though, so don’t push down too much on the filling to get more in. If it doesn’t all fit, then you just have a smaller pumpkin cavity and you’ll have a little excess filling.) Finish with the grated parmesan and replace the pumpkin top.
5. Rub the outside of the pumpkin generously with olive oil and roast it on a tray, uncovered, until the outside is darkened, tender to the touch and you see the cream mixture on the inside simmering out of the top, 2 to 3 hours. Cool for about 10 minutes before serving. Serve by removing the top and scooping a spoonful of the inside (including some pumpkin) onto plates.