How to stuff a pumpkin…

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Pumpkin is one of those vegetables (yes, I know that technically it’s a fruit) that I have a love-hate relationship with.

My mother used to mash it with potato and I hated it so much I’d gag on it. ‘Oh Joanne,’ she’d say. ‘There’s no need for the dramatics.’ She still does it that way and I still gag on it. She also used to boil it. Yep, gag material as well. It’s really only at Christmas that she’d roast it- and apologise if it had little burnt bits around the edge. Coincidentally, that’s one way I do enjoy eating it: roasted with burnt caramelised bits.

I also dislike pumpkin soup- unless it’s my husbands’ version. He adds ginger and garlic and spices it up- plus he makes sure that it’s silky smooth. I can’t abide the lumps- it reminds me of boiled or mashed pumpkin and I’ll gag.

If that’s the hate part, what about the love? If it’s on the menu, I’ll choose a pumpkin and feta risotto any day. Like this one at Ventuno in Walsh Bay.

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I also make a fabulous pumpkin macaroni cheese- if I do say so myself. The link to the recipe is here.

So I was a little concerned when my brother announced that he was doing a whole pumpkin in the camp oven on Friday night. Would it fall into the love category, or would I be gagging?

The verdict? If his Semur Daging (that’s Indonesian beef stew) wasn’t as spicily good as it was, I would have declared the pumpkin the dish of the weekend. It was, without a doubt, the most impressively theatrical dish.

Want the recipe? I’m glad you asked…

(As an aside, when I opened the notebook that I’d written this in, the smell of the fire came out from the pages…)

What you need…

  • 1 large pumpkin
  • ¾ cup cooked rice
  • 3-4 cooked bacon rashers, chopped. You could also use some smoky chorizo for a little more paprika goodness. Fry it up and chop it up.
  • 6 spring onions, chopped- or 1 whole normal onion- white or purple…whatever you have.
  • 2-3 tomatoes, chopped
  • a handful of chopped mixed herbs- whatever you have
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • ¼ cup chicken stock

Don’t be too precious with ingredients or quantities. This is, as all great camp recipes should be, a great use of leftovers or pantry staples. Some chilli for kick is always a good idea…

What you do with it…

  • Place pumpkin in a foil lined camp oven. Depending on your coals, the bottom can get really hot- so double foil it. Bake it over moderate coals until it’s tender. This will take about an hour- fires are not an exact science. The coals on the lid will help cook the pumpkin all the way through.

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  • While it’s cooking, mix all of your stuffing ingredients together. This really is multi-tasking at its best.
  • Remove the pumpkin carefully from the oven and cut the top off it.

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  • Scoop the seeds out from the centre, taking care not to remove any of the sweet flesh.
  • Spoon the rice mix into the pumpkin shell and return the pumpkin to the camp oven.

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  • Pour the chicken stock over and replace the pumpkin lid, and then the lid of the camp oven.

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  • Put it back on the coals (with some more on the lid) and cook for another 30-40 minutes until it’s beautifully tender.
  • Serve on its own (for lunch) or as a side dish…

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