November 9, 2012

Recipe: Chicken-Pumpkin Fall Meatloaf

1 Pumpkin, medium-sized (about 5-6 lbs.)
1 1/2 lbs. of ground Chicken
1 Vidalia Onion, medium-sized (chopped)
3 large Yellow Potatoes (or 6 small ones; chopped)
2 cloves of Elephant Garlic (minced)
4 cloves of Garlic (minced)
1/2 cup of dried Cranberries, chopped
1 stalk of Celery (chopped thinly)
4 Apples, medium-sized (can be any kind; thinly-chopped)
1 Apple Pear, medium-sized (thinly-chopped)
8 ounces roasted Pine Nuts (crushed)
2 tablespoons of Salt
2 tablespoons of ground Black Pepper
1 teaspoon of Cayenne Pepper
1 teaspoon of ground All Spice
2 tablespoons of dried Oregano
1 teaspoon of dried Sage
1 teaspoon of Onion Powder
1 teaspoon of ground Nutmeg
1 teaspoon of ground Cinnamon
1/4 cup of Mustard
1/4 cup of Ketchup
1/2 cup of Panko Breadcrumbs
1/4 cup of Apple Cider
1/4 cup of Virgin Olive Oil
2 tablespoons of Vegetable Oil
1 large Egg

To start, pre-heat the oven to 325-degrees. You're going to cut the top of the pumpkin off, so you can access the insides. Remove the seeds and guts with a spoon. Try to keep as much flesh as possible. When finished, rinse with cold water and towel dry. Take your virgin olive oil and coat the insides of the pumpkin, as well as the top. Cover the bottom to middle of the pumpkin with one large sheet of aluminum foil - it shouldn't have cracks for the next step. Place the pumpkin, with the top back on, into a deep dish metal pan and put into the oven, and fill the pan to about an inch from the top with water. The aluminum foil is to prevent the pumpkin from being water-logged as it cooks, while the water is used to help regulate the temperature of the pan and keep the pumpkin from drying out. Cook the pumpkin for about 20-30 minutes. When the flesh is tender, you can take the pumpkin out of the oven carefully (hot water!) and let it rest. Empty the pan of the water, but keep the aluminum foil on the pumpkin.

While the pumpkin is cooking chop your onion and put into a large skillet (over low heat) with 2 tablespoons of oil, add the salt. Stir occasionally to prevent burning. Also chop potatoes, apples, celery, and pear, as well as mincing the garlics. When the onions are translucent, add the potatoes and celery to the skillet. After another five minutes add the chopped apples and pears, along with pepper powders, onion powder, and dried herbs. Continue cooking and stirring occasionally for ten minutes. Add the apple cider, nutmeg, all spice, and cinnamon, and cover. Continue to cook for another ten minutes over medium heat, then turn off heat and transfer mixture to a large mixing bowl to cool down. If you have an ice bath, that'd be even better (the mixing bowl can fit into a larger bowl with some ice and cold water). Stir the mixture to release steam.

After the mixture has cooled down some, you can lightly scrape the insides of the pumpkin interior to pull some flesh, but you still want to leave a solid wall inside. Take the scrape pumpkin and add to the mixing bowl, along with the ground chicken, ketchup, panko breadcrumbs, dried cranberries, egg, and crushed pine nuts. Mix all the ingredients well with your hands for a few minutes, making sure everything is well mixed. Cover with plastic wrap and place into fridge for 20-30 minutes to allow flavors to blend.

Take the mustard - I like using cranberry or horseradish mustards, if I can find them! - and coat the inside of the pumpkin.

After the meatloaf mixture has cooled for a bit, take it out of the fridge and stuff the pumpkin with it. Once done, place the top back on as much as you can, and return the now-stuffed pumpkin to the pan and place into a 350-degree pre-heated oven, and add water back to the pan, until it's about 2 inches from the top. Cook the pumpkin meatloaf for about 90 minutes to two hours. Once it's cooked, check the temperature with a meat thermometer placed through the top to the middle. You're looking for a reading of at least 165-degrees, if lower return to the oven for at least another ten minutes, before checking the temperature again after washing the thermometer in hot water. Once it's done, remove from the oven carefully (hot water!), place the pumpkin on a large dish, and let sit for about ten minutes. Then cut up and serve.

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