Starting with Halloween and ending on New Year’s Day, the Holidays are a whirlwind of feasts and gatherings. I recently attended a Halloween Potluck Pumpkin Carving hosted by the best hostess and foodie, the lovely Hayley McCarthy (who was previously featured over the summer in my camp cooking article with her delicious gluten-free Banana Fritters recipe: HERE). For this festive gathering of costumed guests ready to show off their pumpkin carving skills, Hayley baked the most perfect, comforting and gorgeous Holiday dish I had ever seen! As she stepped out of the kitchen dressed in true Halloween fashion as Rosie the Riveter, her Baked Pumpkin Fondue was greeted with oohs and aahs and tasted even better than it looked–if that is even possible. Hayley made this special dish gluten-free to make sure I could partake. As soon as I tasted it, I could not wait to share this recipe with you! It’s absolutely the perfect Holiday dish and a wonderful way to use those leftover pumpkins you have been using for your fall decor. I’m so happy to feature this recipe share from one of my favorite foodies.
Hayley: “My hometown of Orange, a small country town in the Central West of Australia, is currently boasting some of the best restaurants and wineries that Australia has to offer. Their local chefs and vineyards have the Sydney locals escaping the city madness for a weekend away of wonderful fresh produce, music and stunning views of the picturesque countryside. But Orange holds a special place for me, away from the 5-star restaurants and cold climate wine tastings. It’s the place I go for quality family time with home-cooked hearty meals over a glass of Rolling Cab Sav and the soundtrack of my niece’s laughter.
Certain recipes always bring this feeling of home to me. Especially as I write this from my apartment in the bustling city of Los Angeles. A particular recipe comes to mind when the autumn leaves start to fall and the winter woolies come out of the closet: Baked Pumpkin Fondue. This special recipe has been passed down from one wonderful woman to another, all born and raised in our small town. It’s the dish to welcome the changing season and it truly warms the soul. From Jeannie, to Jennie Duff, my Aunty Jude, my mother Meredith, my sisters Kate and Francie, landing excitedly into my hands and now perfectly placed with Sarah and Christina at Sirens & Scoundrels. I honor these women by sharing my favorite side dish and appetizer with the world! Enjoy!”
Baked Pumpkin Fondue
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 1.5 to 2 hours
- 1 large pumpkin – about 4kg’s or 8.5 pounds with the stem. (Japanese pumpkins are best or any baking pumpkin that is sweet and has a lot of flesh)
- 6 Tbsp butter
- salt & pepper
- 1 tsp nutmeg
- 1 cup grated Swiss cheese
- 1-2 bay leaves
- 1 ½ cups of soft chunky breadcrumbs (**we used gluten-free)
- 1 large brown onion, diced
- ½ teaspoon of sage
- 2 ¼ cups of cream
Tips when choosing your pumpkin: The ingredients are in proportion to your pumpkin size and the thickness of the flesh. If you are using a large pumpkin but it weighs less than 6.5 pounds after the seeds and string have been discarded, feel free to double the recipe. Always try to find the pumpkin that has the most flesh. Japanese/Kent/Queensland Blue all have a lot of flesh to them and are particularly sweet. The more flesh, the more juicy the pumpkin and the more accurate the amount of ingredients to fill the pumpkin is for this recipe.
Preheat your oven to 400°. Cut the top off of the pumpkin, about 4 inches in diameter. Keep this as the lid of the pumpkin for baking.
TIP: Cut the lid off at a slight 45 degree angle in towards the center versus straight down. This is so that the lid will sit on top of the pumpkin while baking and not fall into the hole.
Scrape out all the seeds and string from inside using a large spoon and discard.
TIP: If you have time, set the seeds aside. Later you can separate the seeds from the stringy flesh and toss them in a little olive oil and spices. Bake the pumpkin seeds in a single layer on a cookie sheet at 300° for 45 minutes…delicious!
Rub 2 Tbsp of butter along the inside walls of the pumpkin and the top of the lid. Season with salt & pepper.
Dice the onion into small pieces. Set aside. You can make your own breadcrumbs by chopping a loaf of bread or gluten-free bread in a food processor. Grate the Swiss cheese. Set aside.
TIP: Swiss cheese adds a lovely mild taste, but you can experiment with your favorite cheese combination. I have used gruyére as well in the past.
Cook the onions in a large frying pan with the remaining butter. Add the breadcrumbs to the onions, letting it soak up the butter. Add salt, pepper, sage and nutmeg. Remove from heat and stir in the grated Swiss cheese.
Place your pumpkin on an iron skillet or a sturdy baking dish. Spoon the mixture into the hollow pumpkin. Pour the cream into the pumpkin, adding the bay leaves. Gently stir the mixture and place the pumpkin lid back on top!
Note: The ingredients should fill the inside of the pumpkin up to the lid. So depending upon the thickness of the flesh and the size of the inside, you may need more or less ingredients. Alter the proportions accordingly.
Bake the pumpkin for 1 ½ to 2 hours until the flesh is cooked on the inside.
TIP: If the pumpkin becomes too brown on the outside after the first hour, you can wrap foil around the outside while it still cooks the inside.
You will be able to tell if your pumpkin is cooked by its soft flesh and oozing sauce rising from the top. Once it is cooked, pull your pumpkin out of the oven, ready to serve.
While the oven is still hot, feel free to grab some French bread and bake it for 5 minutes or until it becomes hot and crunchy. Cut bread into pieces and scatter it around the base of the pumpkin. Using a spoon, scrape and stir the soft pumpkin flesh into the fondue before serving. Dip the bread into your gooey baked pumpkin fondue and enjoy as an appetizer.
Alternatively (and my personal favorite), cut your pumpkin up and enjoy it as a side dish to a perfectly cooked roast leg of lamb. I hope you enjoy this little gem over the Holidays. It’s a wonderful sharing dish and the perfect excuse to bring family and friends together.
Bon Appétit! ~ love, Hayley and Sirens & Scoundrels
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Words & Photography by Sarah Prikryl // Words & Recipe by Hayley McCarthy
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