Roasted Pumpkin Fondue: Your Thanksgiving Day Show-Stopper

Friday, November 16, 2012

Hosting a larger affair next week for Thanksgiving? Having people stop by throughout the day more so than a traditional sit-down evening? Maybe it's just the two of you and you're looking to celebrate the day cozied up by the fireplace? Or maybe you're just looking for a way to use those damn adorable pumpkin pie pumpkins at the store and don't want to fuss with a pie! The answer to all of these is this amazing recipe. While flipping through the recent holiday edition of Gourmet Magazine, a recipe for fondue served in a pumpkin caught my eye. Yet, I found the recipe to be a little redundant -- swiss cheese and gruyere...classic yes, but also boring. Where was the life? Where was the flavor befitting of such a spectacular presentation? I promptly went to work in my kitchen...

A sugar pumpkin is a perfect vessel to house a fondue!
A beautiful sugar pumpkin is first hallowed out and then lightly seasoned with olive oil, salt and pepper then roasted for about an hour until soft. The perfect bowl shape acts like a sourdough bread bowl as a piping hot, bacon and thyme 3 cheese fondue is poured right in. To serve provide some sliced apple, vegetables, sliced french baguette or even potato chips! The balance of flavors is just perfect: the cheese is slightly sharp from the French style gruyere cheese Comte pairing perfectly against the nutty and uber creamy Italian fontina, while freshly grated parmesan provides just enough salty bite to bring the flavors full circle. For brightness I use the smallest amount of fresh thyme leaves to bring the flavors the cheese alive and to give a fantastic aroma to the fondue. A small dusting of spanish paprika gives a nice color and subtle warmth to the palate, while bacon gives both texture and smokiness to really bring this dish home. As you dip, scoop out the tender pumpkin flesh along the sides as you would a bread bowl with soup, the sweetness from the pumpkin pairing just beautifully with the cheeses and spices.

Bacon and thyme add texture and aroma as well as flavor.
This is a perfect, perfect dish. Flavors are extremely well balanced and you cannot beat the presentation. The best part? You can roast the pumpkin in advance then make the fondue very quickly (less than 10 minutes!), and keep it warm in a 275 degree oven all day. Make this for your Thanksgiving celebration -- you will not be disappointed!

 Pumpkin Fondue
1 sugar pumpkin
about 1 Tbsp olive oil
salt and freshly ground black pepper
4 Tbsp unsalted butter
2 Tbsp all purpose flour
1 large clove garlic, very finely minced
3/4 cup chicken or vegetable broth (recommend: Swanson's brand!!!)
1 cup half n half (or combination 1/2 whole milk and 1/2 heavy cream)
1 tsp fresh thyme leaves picked off of stem
1/4 tsp spanish paprika
1 cup shredded comte cheese (french style gruyere; can also use gruyere cheese)
1 cup shredded fonttina cheese (recommend: Italian fontina)
1/4 cup finely grated parmesan cheese
1/4 cup bacon

Take the pumpkin and wash the outside, then dry with paper towel. Preheat oven to 350 degrees, and line a baking sheet or baking vessel large enough to hold the pumpkin with aluminum foil. Cut the top of the pumpkin around the stem a using a spoon, scoop out the inside fibers and seeds just as if you were preparing a halloween jack o'lantern. Remember to also clean the stem part of the fibers and seeds as well! You can save the seeds and roast separately if desired, or discard.

Take the olive oil and brush it on the inside of the pumpkin -- bottom and sides -- very well, as well as the underside of the top with the stem. Sprinkle with some salt and pepper, then place the top back on the pumpkin and place the whole pumpkin on the baking sheet. Place in oven and roast about 1 hour, or until tender. You'll see the sides will begin to darken, maybe even burn on the tops; this is ok -- it adds color and character but if you see it's burning black all over then reduce your heat to 325 and tent the pumpkin with aluminum foil until fully roasted! You'll also notice the top may fall down into the base of the pumpkin; you can continue cooking it that way or better to take it out and just lay it on the side (or remove it from cooking; it won't be eaten anyway, just used for presentation).

Once roasted remove from oven and transfer to a serving plate.

Now prepare your fondue. Heat the butter in a saute pan. Once melted fully add the flour all at once and begin to whisk. You want the heat at low so the flour doesn't burn or turn a dark color. Continue whisking constantly and cooking this roux for 3 minutes; this will cook the raw flour taste out. Add the garlic and cook about a minute. Next, slowly add the broth continuing to whisk as you go. You'll notice the mixture will clump up -- this is normal; it's just because you're adding a colder liquid to a hot roux. Continue whisking to smooth it back out, then add more broth and repeat until all the broth has been added. Next, add the cream at first slowly and still whisking, then adding more until fully incorporated in. Keep the heat on medium-low to low the entire time to prevent burning and scalding the ingredients. Add salt and pepper to your taste, paprika and parmesan cheese. Switch to a wooden spoon at this point to make stirring easier. Now take the mixture off the heat completely and add the remaining two cheeses. Stir until it's nice and creamy. The mixture will be pretty thick; enough to coat the back of a spoon. If you want the mixture to be thinner then add more broth.

The cheese fondue mixture is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon.

Next, add the cooked bacon. If you haven't already, dice the bacon into very small pieces. Add the bacon and the thyme to the cheese sauce and stir to combine. When you're ready to serve, simply pour the cheese fondue sauce directly into the pumpkin.

You can also ladle the sauce in.

Garnish with a small sprig of thyme on the top if you wish, and serve with your favorite sliced apples, vegetables, slices of french baguette, and even potato chips!  Serve piping hot and don't forget to get a bit of that pumpkin with every bite too! Enjoy and Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

1 comment:

emmart said...

Wow, this looks so yummy! If it wasn't 4 days until Thanksgiving I would definitly be making this! Maybe after thanksgiving I'll try it!