Pumpkin Fondue

Serves 6

1 baguette, cut into 1″ cubes
1 or 2 pumpkins, depending on size; either 1 large 8lb pumpkin, or 2 smaller 4-5 pound pumpkins
approx 14oz swiss, emmenthaler, guyere, jack, etc. cheese; swiss or guyere are great, but jack is cheaper — any cheese will do, though.  Grated, about 4 cups
1c heavy cream
1c vegetable stock (to keep this a vegetarian dish) or chicken stock
2/3c sherry or white wine
1/2t nutmeg
salt/pepper, especially white pepper if you have it
other things…cubed apples, shallots, cooked bacon, sliced fennel, herbs, cilantro, etc…
olive oil (spray works best…see olive oil spray information here)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees, or convection oven at 350 (convection works great for this!).

Hollow out pumpkin(s), reserving the top and seeds if you have the energy to do something with them.  By the end of the season we’re sick of pumpkin seeds…

Season the inside with salt and pepper, if desired.  Mix cheeses together with any add-ins (the bacon, etc.), cream, stock, wine, nutmeg, and salt/pepper to taste.

Place one layer of bread in the bottom of the pumpkin(s). Layer with cheese mixture, pour a little liquid in, and repeat.  Continue layering until pumpkin is full, making sure to add ALL the liquid to the pumpkin even if you have leftover bread or cheese.  You can pack it pretty tightly, though…

Replace top and spray entire pumpkin with olive oil.  Place in oiled baking dish and bake about 1 1/4 to 1 1/2 hours.

When finished, you can do one of two things — either serve it fondue style, or sliced like you’d slice a cantaloupe.  We prefer it fondue style, taking a little pumpkin flesh with each forkful of cheese/bread.

BONUS!  Leftover pumpkin (because the bread/cheese always runs out first!) makes a GREAT bread pudding!  Throw any leftover bread from the baguette, torn up, into the same dish in which you baked the pumpkin (DOUBLE BONUS!  You don’t even have to wash the dish first!); remove flesh from pumpkin shell and mix large spoonfuls into the bread.  Add any leftover cheese, mix a couple eggs together with leftover cream/sherry/stock to make about 1 1/2c liquid (proportions don’t really matter.  Ok, try 2/3c cream, 2/3c sherry, 1/4c stock…but really, it doesn’t really matter), pour into pan, and throw a few tablespoons of butter across the top.  Bake at 375 for about 30min.  Awesome.

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