22nd November 2014
Pumpkin, Pumpkin, Pumpkin, Dark Side

    Pumpkins retire
    as Fall fog rolls in from the Forth,
    my desire is always to save some.
    Oh cull of Hallow's Eve.
To the tune of Mull of Kintyre

South Queensferry's Co-op's giant pumpkin
Having secured my annual pumpkin collection before the stroke of midnight on Hallowe'en I was equipped to raise the ghosts of pumpkins past in the shape of yet another Pumpkin in a Chicken in a Pumpkin™.
I repeated the tasty stuffing I used in my Classic Pumpkin except that I processed up hazelnuts instead of the chestnuts. To be honest I thought them too grainy despite being chopped quite small (which seems to be a persistent feature of the nut) and as usual the stuffing ended up unnaturally soggy.

I'm starting to think that next year I might approach the whole thing from a more pot-roast direction - after all it ain't really a roast chicken, so much as a poached one. I should stop fighting this, I suspect it's where the moist succulence of the chicken all comes from anyway, and abandon traditionally stuffing the chicken at all (I could always cook a stuffing separately which is usually better anyway). Perhaps surrounding the chicken with vegetables and stock, or just sticking in a few bits of fruit - apple chunks maybe? It would stop me worrying so much about the build-up of liquid in the pumpkin. Though it's a good idea to keep it to a minimum lest the squash split and spill liquid all over your oven.

Anyway, it all turned out nicely enough - Alex One and Caroline kindly came around to help me eat it. I served it with mashed herbed potatoes, glazed carrots with sage Nice! and creamy mustard Cavolo Nero which I bought to have another stab at kale and pumpkin soup with my anticipated leftovers.
They also tried out my liver dates with a garlicky mushroom salad. They really liked the salad!

Things I re-learned about making Chicken in a Pumpkin:

Yet Another Pumpkin in a Chicken in a Pumpkin
main fowl
Might be time to retire the pleasantly alliterative, but unpleasantly soggy pumpkin stuffing for a pot-roast poaching approach.
Maybe next year?

Serves Everyone

Cut the top off the pumpkin and scoop out the insides. Discard.
Make the stuffing.
Preheat the oven to gas mark 9.
Give the chicken a blast in the oven to crisp up its skin. I keep doing this - no idea if it helps. It might make more sense to remove the skin altogether? Stuff the stuffing into the chicken and the chicken into the pumpkin. Put the pumpkin in a casserole dish large enough to hold the contents in case the pumpkin explodes, put the lid on the pumpkin and put the whole thing in the oven.
Reduce the oven temperature to Gas Mark 5-6.
Bake for hours until the chicken (and stuffing!) is cooked, removing the lid when it all gets too wet inside, and turning down the oven if the pumpkin starts to char.

Peel open a bib in the side of the pumpkin and serve slices of the chicken and pumpkin flesh.

Make stock for your Christmas gravy with the leftover chicken carcass.
As always, tastier than it looks!

Creamy Shredded Cavolo Nero with Mustard
side veg
Serves 4

Shred the cabbage leaves into about ¾" strips. Remove any super-fat stalks.
Boil the Cavolo Nero for 6-8 minutes until tender, drain.
Meanwhile, heat the oil in a large frying pan and fry the onion for 4-5 minutes. Add the cream and mustard. Stir in the Cavolo Nero and heat through, season to taste.
Tip: Add a pinch of saffron to the cream to give extra flavour and colour. Ideal served with roast chicken, beef or cooked sausages.
Yeah, pretty good. The thick cabbage stalks are still a bit daunting, but not overwhelming - trim away any egregiously thick stems.
It went very well with my pumpkinned chicken.
It's actually rather good with a grating horseradish instead of the mustard. Stir in the horseradish to taste after removing from the heat (heat destroys its oils' pungent lachrymosity - so of course it doesn't reheat terribly well either). It's a very much more delicate and subtle dish without the mustard, though also less robust.
This went very well with a couple of lamb chops and some boiled potatoes with sage butter.

Marinated Mushroom Salad
raw salad veg vegan
Unlike this straight mushroom salad you can't overdo the garlic ;)

Thinly slice the red onion, cut up any of the larger mushrooms.
Mix the juice of an orange, half a lemon, about the same quantity of olive oil and the garlic. Season and stir in the mushrooms and onions.
Leave to marinate at room temperature for a few hours, shaking occasionally. Mix through the lettuce leaves and serve.
Good, if you like garlic.
And I do.

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