Sunday, September 15, 2013

First Pumpkin of the Season in About 30 Minutes

We first started seeing fresh pumpkin for sale at the beginning of the month when we were in Wisconsin. At the time, we thought little of it - they have a different growing season than we do here in Maryland, and this seemed about the right time for the squash in that part of the country. But, when we were out procuring food items this weekend and saw them all over the place out here, we rejoiced, for pumpkin season has arrived in Maryland. We stopped by Hopkins Produce on Route 155 and picked up a couple of small but attractive pumpkins and created our first pumpkin meal of what will hopefully be a plentiful season.

Pumpkin works well with chicken and curry, which is the basis for our pumpkin soup recipe. But by the time we completed our shopping, we were hungry and impatient and getting a little cranky, and we really did not want to take the 45 minutes or so required to roast the pumpkin. So my counterpart devised a shortcut.

First pumpkin of the season

Since it was just the two of us and we had a birthday party to attend later in the evening, we wanted just a small lunch to tide us over. Gareth cut off a small section of the pumpkin, skinned it, and cut it down into small pieces (small pieces cook more quickly, and if they look the same, they cook the same.) Then, instead of roasting them in the oven, he pan-friend them on the stovetop.

Diced pumpkin cooking on the stovetop

In a separate pan, he also cooked up some chicken thigh meat, cut off the bone and dusted with a mixture of flour, sriracha sauce, and a Punjab tandoori powder. He cooked the meat in a bit of olive oil, periodically draining the fat off into the pumpkin.

Boned chicken thighs dusted with flour and Punjab red curry

Draining that yummy animal fat into the pumpkin

As the pumpkin continued to cook, he mashed it up, eventually employing our favorite tool, the immersion blender, to puree it with some heavy cream.

Puree the cooked pumpkin with a little cream

To finish the dish, he added a little white onion and garlic that had been gently sauteed, and a little chicken stock. (A note about chicken stock is that if you have a vacuum sealer, you can vacuum seal your stock and lay it flat on one of your freezer shelves to save space. You can also crack the sheet of stock to use a portion of it in your cooking.)

Vacuum-sealed stock keeps longer and saves space

And there you have a very nice dish that has all those good flavors of pumpkin soup in about 30 minutes. Serve with a little buttered bread on the side and you have a perfect fall meal.

30-minute curried chicken with pumpkin

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