You've heard of the tur-duc-ken? The Punkin' Stuffin' recipe ups this outdoor holiday cooking tradition to an entirely new level! Pop one of these babies in a smoker for 6, 7, 8 hours or more and blow the minds of your dinner guests.
Punkin' Stuffin' reminds us of those medieval feasts that created legendary delicacies of old like ¦ Blackbird Pie! (You remember from Mother Goose rhymes)
Enough Mother Goose! Time to get to work. You have ingredients to gather and Punkin' Stuffin' to do!
- 1 large pumpkin
- 15-20 cups of prepared stuffing (we used Stove Top)
- 1 large acorn squash
- ½ lb ground sausage (we used venison fry sausage)
- 1 can whole cranberries in sauce
- 1 medium red apple (whatever is your favorite)
- 4 slices of bacon
- 1 medium jalapeno pepper, whole
- 1 Tbsp. cream cheese (softened)
- Using a knife, cut out top and remove insides from pumpkin as though you are preparing to make a jack-o-lantern. Set aside. (Separate and save seeds for roasting and use in other recipes.)
- Cut and hollow out acorn squash in the same way. Make sure the opening is large enough to accommodate whole apple with room to spare on bottom, top, and sides.
- In a Dutch oven, place the squash shell (open side down) and the squash top in about ½ inch of water. Bake at 425 degrees for at least 20 minutes. Remove to cool and set aside.
- In skillet over medium heat, brown sausage and spoon in whole cranberries from can. Be careful to avoid adding cranberry sauce as much as possible, and pour off melted sauce as it accumulates in bottom of skillet. Continue cooking until sausage is well-browned. Set aside.
- Cut strips of bacon in half. In skillet or microwave, cook bacon until it is heated through, but still limp. (Crisp bacon will not work in this recipe.) Set aside.
- Carefully cut the top off the apple and with a paring knife and table spoon removed the core and hollow out the apple as much as possible to create a cavity large enough for the bacon and jalapeno pepper. Once completed, place hollowed apple and the apple top in a bowl and cover with water to prevent oxidation of apple.
- With paring knife, carefully cut the stem end off of the jalapeno and set ithe top aside. With paring knife, remove the seeds, ribs, and pith from the pepper.
- With teaspoon and butter knife, fill cavity in the pepper with cream cheese. Allow enough to overflow the top to stick the pepper lid back in place.
- Wrap one piece of bacon around the jalapeno and line the cavity in the apple with bacon so wrapped pepper fits snugly when inserted.
- Place top back on apple and secure in place with toothpicks if desired.
- Spoon some of the sausage/cranberry mixture into bottom of cavity in the partially cooked squash shell. Insert apple and fill out remaining space in squash with more sausage. Place top back on squash and pin with toothpicks if desired.
- Spoon dressing into pumpkin shell enough to fill about 1/3 of the way up the shell.
- Place stuffed squash in pumpkin shell, and spoon in more stuffing to fill remaining space in cavity around the squash.
- Place lid on pumpkin.
The stuffed pumpkin needs to be cooked low and slow to heat completely through without totally cooking down the pumpkin shell. All ingredients except the pumpkin are cooked, partially cooked, or edible raw, (except squash rind) so you're really just attempting to cook the pumpkin and heat everything else through. This can be accomplished in a kitchen oven, using a smoker, in an enclosed grill or even with the pumpkin wrapped in oiled cheese cloth and aluminum foil and buried in a pit of coals luau-style. The key (except in the pit) is checking it often after the first two three hours of cooking at a low temperature like 200-225 degrees. A remote-reading cooking thermometer is helpful, as you can push the probe to the center and monitor the temperature at the core. You want that to reach about 130 degrees.