Have you ever cooked dinner inside a pumpkin? It's a novel concept that is always a big hit with the kids. If you were to serve the same rice-and-sausage concoction from a casserole dish, they would whine and complain as if they were being forced to consume asphalt but serve it from the inside of a pumpkin and suddenly the dish is transformed to one of the greatest things they have ever eaten in their young lives. Little tricks like this are a lifesaver when it comes to feeding small, easily impressionable palates.
I have to admit that this dinner is a lot of fun to both make and serve. It's nice to do something different with a whole pumpkins besides carve a face into the side that is about as artistic as my two-year-old's self portraits. This is a great Halloween night dinner idea. I personally like to use pie pumpkins for this because the flavor is better than the larger pumpkins, but either work. If using smaller pie pumpkins, you might need to fill 2-3 of them. A single, 5-6 pound pumpkin should be large enough to stuff completely full with the filling depending on how many...ahem...guts you have to scoop out of it.
This is a simple, homey meal made simple by the fact that the cooking vessel is the pumpkin. Be sure to scoop up the pumpkin flesh when serving the rice - it really does add something special to the dish!
adapted slightly from Favorite Family Recipes
Note: The pictures above were taken before baking. The pumpkin takes on a darker appearance after baking and the insides are soft and scoopable and are, in my opinion, the best part of the whole dish!
1 medium pumpkin
1 tbsp butter
1 small onion, diced
2 cups sliced fresh mushrooms
1/2 pound ground beef
1/2 pound hot Italian sausage, casings removed
1 8 oz can water chestnuts, chopped
Salt and pepper to taste
1 can cream of chicken soup
1/4 cup brown sugar
2 Tbsp soy sauce
4 cups cooked rice, white or brown
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Line a baking sheet with foil.
Thoroughly wash and dry the outside of the pumpkin.
Cut the top off the pumpkin and clean out the pulp and seeds. Place the pumpkin on the baking sheet. Save the top.
In a large skillet, sauté the beef and sausage until no longer pink, breaking the meat into very small pieces with a wooden spoon as it cooks. Drain the meat on paper towels. Return the hot skillet to the onion and add a tablespoon of butter. When melted, add the onion and mushrooms and cook until the onion is translucent. Add to a large bowl with the meat and season with salt and pepper to taste. Stir in the water chestnuts.
In a small bowl, mix the soup, brown sugar, and soy sauce. Add to the beef/sausage mixture along with the cooked rice. Spoon the mixture into the prepared pumpkin and replace the pumpkin top.
Bake for 1 hour on the lower rack of the oven, or on the rack where the pumpkin can be most centered in the oven.
After 1 hour, remove the top and check the sides of the pumpkin for doneness. The outside of the pumpkin will turn a dark orange, and the inside of the pumpkin should be tender and easily scoop off the sides with a spoon. If the inside of the pumpkin is still not fully cooked, bake for an additional 10-15 minutes. The cooking time will vary depending on the size of the pumpkin. Using hot pads, place the pumpkin onto a serving plate, remove the lid, and stir. Be sure to scoop off chunks of cooked pumpkin into the casserole as it is served.
Linking this post up for #TuesdayTalk.