Pumpkin Stuffed with Chicken and Rice

So Perfect for Autumn

The ultimate one-dish meal is cooked in its own pot-in this case it's a pumpkin. I remember the year we picked a lot of pumpkins on the East End farms for decoration at my restaurant on Long Island. When it came time to use them up, this dish became a very popular item on the menu.

If you like to experiment, toss in some chicpeas, sweetpeas, or slices of smoked sausage when you add the chicken.

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Pumpkin Stuffed with Chicken and Rice

Recipe by Chef George Hirsch, Gather Round The Grill cookbook, 1995 | Makes 4 servings

chefgeorgehirsch.com | George Hirsch Lifestyle

2 large pumpkins (8 to 12 inches in diameter)

One 3-pound chicken, cut into 8 pieces, or 1 1/2 pounds chicken cutlets 

2 Tablespoons olive oil

1/2 medium onion, cut into rings

1 large red bell pepper, seeded and cut into 1-inch strips

1 cup long grain rice

2 1/4 cups chicken broth

Puree from 1 head Caramelized Garlic

2 bay leaves

2 Tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro

2 teaspoons cumin 

1 teaspoon hot sauce

1/2 cup chopped tomatoes

Preheat the grill.

Using a sharp knife, cut a 5-inch hole in the top of the pumpkin and remove the seeds. Reserve the lid.

Brush the chicken with some if the olive oil and grill about 20 minutes or until three-fourths done. (if using cutlets, grill 4 to 5 minutes.) Brush the onion and red pepper with the remaining olive oil and grill until light brown, about 4 to 5 minutes. Remove onion and peppers and chop ito 1 inch pieces.

In a large saucepan heat the rice and broth. Add the garlic, bay leaves, cilantro, cumin, hot sauce and tomatoes. When the mixture begins to boil, stir in the onion, red bell pepper, and the par-cooked chicken.

Wrap the bottom of the pumpkin with foil. Spoon the mixture into the pumpkin, then cover with the pumpkin lidd. Place the pumpkin on the grill, lower the grill hood, and cook 45 to 50 minutes. Or, cook in a 375 degree F oven. Remove the pumpkin from the grill, place on platter discarding aluminum foil and bay leaves.

Add a little additional broth if the mixture is too dry. Bring the pumpkin to the table and serve the chicken directly from it.

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Classic Comfort

Autumn is a time of cooler days and crisp nights. Short days with less daylight is a primer for comfort foods. So for those of us seeking comfort, Mac & Cheese might just be the most popular comfort food on tonight's menu.

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Macaroni and cheese is simple to make, and the secret is to use a mixture of good cheeses.

George’s Classic Jack Mac

Makes 6 servings

chefgeorgehirsch.com | George Hirsch Lifestyle

2 Tablespoons Butter

1 onion, chopped

6 cloves garlic, chopped

2 Tablespoons all-purpose flour

4 cups chicken broth

2 bay leaves

1 teaspoon fresh thyme

1 teaspoon hot sauce

pinch fresh grated nutmeg

2 cups half & half

1 cup sharp cheddar cheese, shredded

1/2 cup Jack cheese, shredded

2 Tablespoons Parmesan cheese, grated

2 Tablespoons fresh cilantro, chopped

1 1/2 pounds uncooked elbow, shells, or other small pasta

Melt Butter in a large soup pot or saucepan. Add onion, and garlic and sauté for 1 minute. Add the flour and cook for 1 to 2 minutes, stirring constantly. Slowly add the broth, and bring to a boil. Lower the heat, add the bay leaves, thyme, hot sauce, and simmer for 10 minutes. 

Stir in the half & half and heat to a simmer. Slowly add the Cheddar, Jack, and Parmesan cheeses, stirring until they melt and the sauce is smooth. Stir in the cooked pasta. Place in a serving dish and eat immediately or sprinkle with Mac Topping (optional), and bake five minutes in a 350 degree oven. 

For the Mac Topping

4 Tablespoons butter, melted

6 Tablespoons bread crumbs

2 Tablespoons Parmesan cheese, grated

1 Tablespoon fresh parsley, chopped

Fresh ground pepper, to taste

Place all ingredients in a bowl and mix well.

13 EPISODES on 4 HD-DVD Disk Set
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George's Pumpkin Banana Nut Muffins

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Summer is winding down this week and I hope this recipe gets you in the mood for the arrival of Fall! Get into the fresh baked season and after 20 minutes of baking you can be enjoying hot out of the oven muffins. If you can resist to wait, they will even taste tomorrow. The banana in this pumpkin muffin recipe is an added natural sweetener, and also keeps the muffin fresh. 

George's Pumpkin Banana Nut Muffins

chefgeorgehirsch.com | adapted from George Hirsch Living it UP! cookbook

makes 10-12 muffins

For the Muffin Mix:

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 cup fresh cheese pumpkin puree, cooked and reduced, or canned pumpkin 

1/4 cup about 1 large very ripe banana, mashed

1/2 cup pure cane granulated sugar

3 Tablespoons honey

1 egg, beaten

1 teaspoon cinnamon

pinch fresh grated nutmeg

1/4 cup pecans or walnuts, chopped into 1/4 inch pieces

1 teaspoon vanilla

1/2 teaspoon grated orange zest

1/2 cup sweet butter, melted; or replace with part/or all applesauce

For the Crumb Topping:

1/3 cup light brown sugar

2 Tablespoons all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon cinnamon

2 Tablespoons nuts, chopped

1 Tablespoon sweet butter

In a small bowl, mix together brown sugar, flour, cinnamon, and nuts. Blend butter in with a fork until mixture is crumb like.

Lightly grease 10 muffin cups, or line with muffin papers.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. 

In a large bowl, mix together flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt. In another bowl, beat together reduced pumpkin, bananas, sugar, honey, egg, cinnamon, nutmeg, vanilla, zest, nuts, and melted butter. Fold in pumpkin mixture by hand with a spatula into the flour mixture until just moistened. 

TIP: For a "lower fat" muffin replace the butter in-part or all with applesauce.

Place batter into muffin cups filling each cup to three quarters full. Divide the crumb topping evenly over the top of muffin batter.

Bake for 18 to 20 minutes. Check for doneness with a toothpick inserted into center of a muffin; done when toothpick comes out clean; or when touched lightly the muffin should have a slight resistance to finger pressure.

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Jacob's Ladder

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On one occasion when I was cooking for a client’s media event in the UK, I wanted to prepare a spin of a dish that was very popular with my viewers on my TV series - short ribs, but I had a heck of a time finding the cut of beef I required for my recipe. When I expressed to the British butcher my needs, he explained that in the UK it is known as Jacob's Ladder because of its 12 ribs; when laid on its side the bones look like the rung of a ladder. (There is of course a biblical reference to Jacobs Ladder, but I’ll stick to the short ribs foodie version for this post.) 

Enjoy. 

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Short ribs are best cooked in the pot-au-feu method, meaning ‘low and slow’ (low heat, with a long period of braising) to tenderize the tough cut of beef. 

Short Ribs of Beef with Orange Ginger Sauce

Makes four servings 

chefgeorgehirsch.com | George Hirsch Lifestyle

4 pounds Beef short ribs, bone in 

1/4 cup flour, for coating beef short ribs 

2 Tablespoons olive oil 

4 cloves garlic, sliced thin 

1 Tablespoon fresh ginger, peeled and chopped 

1 leek, whites only cut into one inch pieces 

2 teaspoons sesame oil 

2 teaspoons sherry 

2 teaspoons soy sauce 

juice of one orange 

1 1/2 cups beef broth 

Coat beef ribs with flour, shaking off any excess. 

Pre heat a braising or sauce pot to medium high temperature. 

Add olive oil and sear beef short ribs until well browned, turning only once on each side. 

Drain any excess oil. Lower temperature of pot, add garlic, ginger, leeks, sesame oil, sherry, soy sauce, orange juice and beef broth. Bring sauce up to a boil, then lower to a gentle simmer, cover and cook for 1 1/2- 2 hours or until meat is beginning to fall away from the bone. 

When short ribs are fully cooked, remove meat from pot. Raise the temperature of the sauce to a low boil. Reduce the sauce to naturally thicken. 

Serve with steamed rice or creamy mashed potatoes. 

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