I’m very fond of Ina Garten, as you know, but I must say this: she is wrong. At least about pumpkins in France. She said in her new book “Back to Basics” (Lord love the library!) that pumpkin isn’t even sold in France. I couldn’t believe that so I checked. It is. She said that while in Paris she had to make due with a squash called potiron instead. Not to be picky, but a pumpkin is a squash and the french word for pumpkin is potiron. I don’t know what Ina’s gourd looked like but it was likely a pumpkin.
Of course, for my research I didn’t actually fly to France and check all the market stands but I did use my old friend Google and I found recipes a plenty from french folks using pumpkin. One thing I did discover though is that pumpkin is typically only a savory ingredient – pies, muffins, bread are probably not going to show up on a menu any time soon.
So Ina, dear favorite of celebrity chefs, you might want to scope out the markets next time you and Jeffrey are in Paris. Perhaps you’ll want to try this Potiron rôti:
“Roasted pumpkin stuffed with bread and gruyère cheese, from The Great Little Pumpkin Book by Michael Krondl. I learned how to make this fabulous dish from Alain Senderens, one of France’s renowned three-star chefs. If you can only find big pumpkins, increase the filling and cooking time proportionately. Recipe
1 cooking pumpkin of about 5 pounds
1/2 pound loaf of French or Italian country-style bread
1 cup crème fraîche
8 ounces grated Gruyère cheese
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
Salt and black pepper
Rinse the outside of the pumpkin and wipe dry. Using a sharp knife and cutting at a slight angle so the tip of the knife is angled down into the vegetable, cut off the top quarter of the pumpkin to form a lid. Use a large spoon scrape out the seeds.
Cut the bread into thin slices and toast until golden brown. Set aside.
Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
Line the pumpkin cavity with one layer of the bread, spread with 4 tablespoons of the crème fraîche, a quarter of the cheese and a generous sprinkle of salt and freshly ground pepper. Continue layering (4 layers in all), finishing with the Gruyère. Set the top back on the pumpkin.
Cut a piece of aluminum foil large enough to wrap the entire pumpkin. Brush the pumpkin lightly with the oil. Wrap the pumpkin with the foil and place on a baking pan. Set in the oven and bake about 1 hour, 40 minutes. The pumpkin will be done when the outside skin has softened and a very sharp knife can easily pierce through to the interior flesh.
Remove from the oven, take off the foil and place the pumpkin on a serving platter. Carefully remove the lid and, using a large spoon, stir the interior mixture, making sure to incorporate the pumpkin into the other ingredients. Taste for seasoning and add salt and pepper if necessary.
Serves 4 to 6.”