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Pumpkin in Stew

by Elizabeth Skipper | October 20th, 2015 | Ask the Chef
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pumpkin (400x400)After trick or treating, the adults gather at one house for dinner while the kids run off the candy. I want to make a low-maintenance stew, something warm that can be made earlier in the day. Do you know of any recipes that include pumpkin, so that my dish can be both easy and Halloween-themed?

The Argentinians have this covered. Carbonada Criolla is a beef stew which is not only made with pumpkin, it’s served in a pumpkin! How much more Halloween-themed can you get?

It’s important to know the difference between a field, or jack o’lantern, pumpkin, and a pie or baking pumpkin. The latter are much smaller, with denser, sweeter flesh; they’re more like winter squash (with which they’re pretty much interchangeable for culinary purposes.) Field pumpkins – the ones we carve and decorate – aren’t really edible. The flesh is stringy, dry, and tasteless. This recipe uses both.

Carbonada Criolla (Beef Stew with Pumpkin in a Pumpkin Shell)

  • One 2-lb. sugar pumpkin (or 1–1¼ lbs. cubes)
  • 3 whole canned peaches or pears, well drained
  • 2 TB olive oil
  • 2 lbs. beef round, cut into 1 ½” chunks
  • 2 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 2 carrots, peeled & sliced
  • 1 small green pepper, seeded & chopped
  • 4 cups beef broth
  • 1 small can chopped tomatoes, drained (1-1 ½ cups)
  • Herbs: 1 bay leaf, ½ tsp. dried oregano, 6 sprigs parsley 
  • Salt
  • ¾ lb. white potatoes
  • ¾ lb. sweet potatoes
  • 1 lb. zucchini, sliced ½” thick
  • 10 ozs. package frozen corn kernels
  • Pepper
  • One approximately 10-lb. field pumpkin
  • 3 TB butter
  • 1/3 cup sugar

Clean the sugar pumpkin, peel the flesh, cut into ½” cubes, and set aside. Cut the peaches or pears into quarters and set aside.

Heat olive oil in a large Dutch oven or skillet, and brown the beef. Remove the meat; add the garlic, onions, carrots, and green pepper. Cook for 5 minutes until the garlic and onions wilt. Add the broth, tomatoes, herb bouquet, and 2 tsp. salt, plus the browned beef. Cover and simmer for 15 minutes.

(While the stew is cooking, preheat the oven to 375ºF. Slice a lid off the field pumpkin and remove the seeds. Melt the butter and brush it on the inside of the pumpkin. Sprinkle sugar over the butter, turning the pumpkin so that the sugar sticks all over the inside. Put the lid back on, and bake the pumpkin for 45 minutes. Leave the oven on.)

Add the white and sweet potatoes and sugar pumpkin cubes to the stew. Cover and cook for 30 minutes. Take out 1-1 ½ cups of the vegetable mixture along with some of the liquid and purée. Return to the stew to thicken it.

Add zucchini, corn, and peaches or pears to the stew, and cook for 5 minutes. Pepper to taste, add salt if needed, and ladle stew into the field pumpkin. Bake for 15 minutes. Serve in the pumpkin, handling it carefully.

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