Grandale Farm Restaurant, Loudon County, Pumpkin and Cheese Fondue

Keep this dish in mind for Thanksgiving--a glossy pumpkin is just the right color and look for an autumn feast. The surprisingly light and fluffy fondue inside has warm, melty cheese flavor aplenty, but is not overly rich or cloying.

Servings: 12-16

Cook Time: 3 hours

Pair With: A white wine with good acidity to cut through the richness or a Cabernet Sauvignon to complement the cheddar cheese.

Source: Recipe courtesy Author Clark, Grandale Farm Restaurant, Loudoun County, VA; recipe by Tama Takahashi.

INGREDIENTS

7 ounces of baguette in 1/2" slices--about 15" of a baguette
a 7 pound orange pumpkin
1 1/2 teaspoons salt, in two parts
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
1 cup reduced-sodium chicken or vegetable broth
1/2 teaspoon grated nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon pepper
6 ounces coarsely grated Swiss or Meunster, about 2 1/2 cups
6 ounces coarsely grated Cheddar, about 2 1/2 cups
1 tablespoon olive oil

DIRECTIONS

Preheat oven to 450°F with rack in lower third part of oven. Place the baguette slices in one layer on a baking sheet, then place in the oven. Bake until the tops are crisp (bread will still be pale), about 7 minutes. Transfer to a rack to cool. Reduce the oven temperature to 350 degrees.

Remove the top of the pumpkin by cutting a circle 3 inches in diameter around stem with a small sharp knife, angling the knife so the top can be replaced without falling through the hole (see photo). Scrape out the seeds and any loose fibers from inside pumpkin with a spoon (including top of pumpkin; reserve seeds for another use if desired). Season the inside of the pumpkin with 1/2 teaspoon salt.

Whisk together cream, broth, nutmeg, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper in a bowl. Mix together the cheeses in another bowl. Put a layer of toasted bread in the bottom of the pumpkin, cover with about 1 cup cheese and about 1/2 cup cream mixture. Continue layering bread, cheese, and cream mixture until pumpkin is filled to about 1/2 inch from top, using all of cream mixture. (You may have some bread and cheese left over)

Cover the pumpkin with the top and put in an oiled small roasting pan. Brush the outside of the pumpkin all over with olive oil. Bake until pumpkin is tender and filling is puffed, about 1 1/4 to 1 1/2 hours. Serve scoops of the cooked pumpkin with the fluffy fondue filling.

 

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Chef's Notes:

Editor's Note: I used parchment paper instead of oiling my baking pan for easier clean up. I loved this recipe and will try it in small individual pumpkins for a dinner party. The Harney Lane Albarino was a wonderful pairing--with enough acidity to balance the richness of the cheese and a rich mouthfeel that matched the food. Red wine lovers will like a Cabernet Sauvignon with structure and full fruit--a good pairing with the tanginess of the cheddar.