- 1 ~3 lb. sweet baking pumpkin
- 1 package Alessi risotto alla Millanese, prepared per directions
- 3 oz. diced pancetta
- 1 medium carrot, diced
- 1 celery stalk, diced
- 1 small onion, diced
- 4 cloves garlic, minced fine
- pinch red pepper flakes
- 1 tablespoon dried italian herbs
- 1 tablespoon tomato paste
- 1 8 oz package brown beech mushrooms
- 1 14.5 oz. can diced tomatoes (I like Muir Organic)
- 1 14.5 oz. can tomato sauce (ditto)
- 1 tablespoon low sodium soy sauce
- 1 tablespoon low sodium Worcestershire sauce
- 8 oz. ground pork
- 8 oz. ground veal
- Grated parmesan
- Panko bread crumbs
I had picked up a lovely locally grown organic sweet pumpkin (about 3 pounds) at Bristol Farms and was debating what to do with it. I adore pumpkin in savory applications and, of course, dote on Italian cuisine. So I decided to make an "Italian" stuffing for a roasted pumpkin.
I cut off the top and cleaned the pumpkin of all its seeds and strings. Rubbed the interior well with a cut piece of garlic. Seasoned the interior with salt and pepper. Gave the interior a light spray of Pam, put the top back, and baked it for about 75 minutes in a 350 oven.
Using a 12-inch Calphalon nonstick frying pan, I fried off the pancetta over medium heat until the pieces were crispy and the fat had rendered. I transferred the pancetta pieces to a paper towel covered plate to drain and poured off all but a tablespoon of the fat. I then sweated the carrot, celery, and onion (which I lightly salted) over medium low heat under they were tender. I cranked the heat back up to medium and added the tomato paste, italian herbs, pepper flakes, garlic, and mushrooms. I cooked them until the mushrooms had softened. I then transferred the whole thing to an All-Clad 3-Quart saucier, to which I then added the pancetta, tomatoes, tomato sauce, soy sauce, and Worcestershire sauce. I let it simmer slowly over medium-low heat. After it had simmered for a while I tasted it and adjusted the seasoning with salt, pepper, and a dash of Tabasco.
Meanwhile, I fried up the ground veal and pork. When they were ready, I drained it briefly on a paper towel covered plate, and then added them to the saucier.
Finally, I added the cooked rice to the saucier. Removed it from heat. Eyeballed a healthy dose of Parmesan and mixed it all.
I then pulled the pumpkin from the oven, mopped up some liquid that had seeped out of the flesh, and filled it with stuffing. (I had a lot of stuffing left over, which will go into a casserole tomorrow night). I topped the stuffing with bread crumbs and more Parmesan, which I lightly oiled with a spray of Pam. I then put the stuffed pumpkin back into the oven until the topping was golden brown and delicious.
Although this recipe sprang from my imagination rather than classic Italian cuisine and, if it had come from Italy, it would have been closer to Southern Italian than Tuscan cuisine, I nevertheless paired it with a Tuscan red wine. The 2010 Il Bruciato is 50% Cabernet Sauvignon, 30% Merlot, and 20% Syrah sourced from grapes grown in the emerging Bolgheri region. Deep purple-ruby color. Has not thrown much sediment. Smooth, well-integrated tannins. Pretty acidic, which made it a great match with the meal. On the nose and palate, it suggests cherries, raspberries, currants, and earthy vegetation. Plus, it's a great value. I picked up a half case at K&L Wines at $23/bottle. Not a wine for the cellar, but a great value for drinking in the near term (say through 2015 or '16). With a bump for value, it's grade is B++, shading towards A--