“Cuando llega el mes de octubre corro al huerto de mi casa
Y busco con alegría tres o cuatro calabazas…”
There is no autumnal chill in the air, no backyard pumpkin patch like in the little song on top, but come October and November, it’s hard not to get in the mood for the holidays. The Halloween candy is in the pantry (with a couple of missing pieces) ready for the kids who will show up at our doorstep. We celebrate Thanksgiving in Puerto Rico with lots of local side dishes sharing the table with the turkey and cranberry sauce. December and January will roll in, with their avalanche of lechón, arroz con gandules, morcilla… pork, rice with pigeon peas, and blood sausage – and great parties to share them with family and friends.
I didn’t get stuffing for the longest time. Before 2005, my experience with stuffing was limited to watching one of my college roommates nuke bowls of the bagged stuff with water, and eat it like it was the greatest thing in the world. Why stuff turkey with anything but good old mofongo (plantain mash) or yucca? Wet croutons? Pfft…
On the first Thanksgiving I spent with my in-laws, Eduardo declared he was going to make stuffing. I looked at him in disbelief, maybe even dismay. To my surprise, he baked a savory bread pudding with spinach, artichokes, and Brie that changed my mind about well-done stuffing. “Wet breadcrumbs” done right can be absolutely magical. The “everything good” part of Dorie’s recipe – as well as her comments on its adaptability – reminded me of that bread pudding.
My pumpkin had Spanish flair. The cosas ricas – yummy things – I used to stuff it included diced jamón serrano, Manchego cheese, garlic, and a generous dusting of sweet paprika. Since I bought a 5 pound pumpkin – weighing 4 pounds after removing the seeds and stringy parts – I added more of everything than what the recipe suggested. I did fail to bump up the baking time beyond the suggested two hours. Even though it was more than edible, the pumpkin could have used an extra half hour in the oven. I roasted a pork tenderloin the day after and placed the leftover half on a Pyrex baking dish in the lower rack of the oven. It turned out great!
French Fridays with Dorie is an online cooking group were we work our way Around My French Table, Dorie Greenspan’s award winning cookbook. Normally we do not share the recipes from the book, but this one was featured in Epicurious.com. Click here for more photos of the pumpkin and here to see how the rest of the Doristas did theirs!