STUFFED PUMPKIN WITH CORNBREAD CHICKEN-APPLE DRESSING
(TAKE THIS SQUASH AND STUFF IT!)


Running some last-minute Halloween errands this week I was startled to find that as far as the retail world is concerned, Halloween is long gone, Thanksgiving has been leap-frogged right over, and it's CHRISTMAS! Poor little Turkey Day! 

Well, the big box stores may be decking their halls with boughs of holly, but I've got some serious Pilgrimizing to do around here.  To kick off Turkey Month, I'm going to do old Tom a favor and offer a wonderful alternative to stuffing his cold, pink carcass (did I hear someone say Salmonella?) with soggy bread. 

Introducing the STUFFED PUMPKIN WITH CORNBREAD AND CHICKEN APPLE SAUSAGE DRESSING.  The presentation is festive and lovely, and this sweet and savory stuffing always brings guests back for seconds!  Gobble Gobble!

STUFFED PUMPKIN WITH CORNBREAD CHICKEN-APPLE DRESSING

• 1 (4 to 5 pound) pumpkin
• 1/4 cup melted butter
• Salt and pepper
• 2 tablespoons olive oil
• 1 small onion, finely chopped
• 2 shallots, chopped
• 2 celery ribs, chopped
• 4 garlic cloves, minced
• 2 Red Delicious apples, peeled and cubed
• 1 teaspoon celery seed
• 1 teaspoon fennel seed
• 2 TB chopped fresh parsley
• 2 TB chopped fresh sage
• 1 package (approx. 1.5 lbs) chicken apple sausage, cut into small cubes
• 1 cup Sauvignon Blanc wine
• 1 cup heavy cream
• 1 TB chopped fresh thyme
• 1 (16-ounce) package cornbread stuffing
• 3 cups chicken broth
• 2 eggs, beaten

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.


Cut off the lid of the pumpkin and set it aside. Pull out the seeds and strings from inside the pumpkin. Using a large spoon, scrape the inside of the pumpkin clean.. Brush the inside flesh with melted butter, season with salt and pepper. Place pumpkin and lid on a greased baking sheet; bake for 15 minutes.

In a large skillet, heat oil over moderate heat. Add onion, shallots, celery, garlic, apples, celery seed, and fennel seed. Sprinkle in parsley and sage. Cook, stirring often, until fragrant, about 3 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Add the sausage, and continue to cook 5 more minutes. Deglaze the pan with wine, cook down 2 minutes to evaporate the alcohol. Stir in the cream and thyme, check seasoning.

Scrape the sausage mixture into a large bowl and fold in the cornbread. Gradually blend in the eggs and chicken broth, until the stuffing is evenly moistened. Fill the pumpkin with stuffing (set lid aside for later), return to the oven, and bake 30 minutes until the eggs are cooked and the stuffing has begun to brown on top. Serve stuffing in the pumpkin bowl topped with lid.

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