Friday, October 26, 2012

Festive Pumpkin Stew

This is a "one of a kind" dish.  Our family garnishes the pumpkin with kale, and fresh whole cranberries to form a wreath around its base on a white platter.  This stew is our traditional meal on the night when our family gathers to trim the Christmas tree. 

1 medium-size, nicely-shaped pumpkin
3 Tbsp olive oil
1 large yellow or brown onion, coarsely chopped, about 3 cups
2 cloves garlic, chopped
2 1/2 lb Albacore or Ahi steaks, cubed, about 5-6 cups
3/4 cups chicken stock or broth
2 medium yams, peeled and cubed in 3/4 " pieces, about 4 1/2 cups
3 large Yukon Gold potatoes, cubed in 3/4" pieces, about 6 cups
2 green bell peppers, chopped in 3/4" pieces, about 2 1/2 cups
1 1/4 cups dried apricots, halved
1 tsp sea salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
3 medium tomatoes, chopped. or 1 14 oz. can tomatoes, drained
3/4 cup corn, fresh, frozen or canned, drained
1/4 cup sherry

If using a pumpkin, wash and dry it.  Carefully cut a circle around the top of the pumpkin, making a "lid" that can be replaced.  Remove the pulp and seeds and set aside.  You can save the seeds to be toasted in the oven.  They're very nutritious.

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.  In a large skillet with a lid or a 6-qt. soup pot, cook the onion in olive oil on medium-high heat about 3 minutes, then stir in the garlic and cubed fish or chicken.  Cover and continue to cook 5-6 minutes, stirring often. Add the chicken stock, yams and potatoes.  Stir, then cover and cook another 8 minutes.  Add the green pepper, apricots, salt and pepper.  Stir, cover and cook 3 minutes.  Stir in the tomatoes, corn and sherry.  Spoon into the prepared pumpkin, or, if not using a pumpkin, cook until just heated through and serve.

If using a pumpkin, fill it with stew and replace its top.  I like to set my pumpkin in a 9" cake pan to help stabilize it.  It's alright if the pumpkin is bigger than the cake pan, it will soften and form to the pan as it bakes.  Place the cake pan with pumpkin in a roasting pan and put in the oven to bake 20-30 minutes, just until pumpkin begins to soften and turns a beautiful warmer shade of orange.

Serves 10-12.

Recipes like this and others can be found in Tracy Hill's
new book Delighfully Free
You can visit her website at