Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Dinner in a Pumpkin in a Dutch Oven

This dish is traditional for us this time of year. Typically, when there's a Halloween party for our group of parents of special needs kids, or a church party, my wife will make this meal. It's really cool, because the presentation is so seasonal.

The basic idea is that you hollow out the pumpkin, and fill it with a hamburger, rice, veggie, and sauce mix, then bake the whole thing. When you serve it up, the pumpkin itself becomes the serving bowl. You spoon out the meal mix, and as you do, you scrape in some of the baked pumpkin. The flavors all blend. It's delicious!

And I'm NOT a big fan of gourds and squash!

Dinner in a Pumpkin in a Dutch Oven

12" Dutch oven (browning and sauteeing)
8" Dutch oven (rice)
14" Deep dutch oven (baking the meal)

22 coals above, 12 coals below (maybe a few more because it was a bit cold and windy)

  • 1 Cup rice
  • 2 Cups water

  • 1-2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 2 Medium onions, chopped or sliced
  • 3-4 Stalks celery, chopped
  • 2-3 Cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 cup mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 lb Ground beef
  • 1 Can cream of something soup
  • salt
  • Pepper
  • Parsley

  • 1 pumpkin, smaller and kinda flat
  • 2 tsp chili powder
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 2 Tbsp Brown Sugar

I started out by heating up some coals. I got the rice and water cooking in the small 8", and started sauteeing the onions, celery, mushrooms and garlic in the 12". When I cook rice, I just watch it until steam starts venting, then take it off about ten minutes after that. It usually works. When you're sauteeing veggies, you want the oven to be pretty hot, enough that the oil in the bottom looks "shimmery" and the veggies simmer the moment they hit the pan.

Once the veggies were looking a bit carmelized, I added the ground beef and browned it.

While that was cooking, I prepared the pumpkin. I have to say it was a challenge to pick the right pumpkin. I had to get out my tape measure and measure the inside of the 14" dutch oven, and then measure all of the pumpkins at the store. I must've looked pretty funny walking around measuring each pumpkin. I felt a little like Linus from Peanuts, making sure that his pumpkin patch was sincere enough for the Great Pumpkin.

I found one that was kinda flat when laid on its side, and yet I realized that there was still no way it would fit into the oven. It was still to high. So, I just decided to cut it into a bowl shape and move on.

What I did was to place the pumpkin in the dutch oven, and, using a knife, mark the "lid level" all the way around the pumpkin. Then I too it out and cut the top off using that knife mark as a guide. Finally, I hollowed out the seeds, and scraped off the fibrous parts.

Then, I got out the chili powder, and the cinnamon and sprinkled those around the inside. I tried to get all up the sides as well. I spread the the brown sugar around as well, and rubbed it all in.

Then, I brought all the other dutch ovens in and mixed their contents together with the can of soup and the seasonings. This glop I poured into the pumpkin and placed it into the 14" deep dutch oven. The lid fit nicely!

I put that oven out on the coals for almost two hours. I kept sticking the pumpkin rind with thin bamboo skewers, and when I felt little resistance, I knew it was soft and ready to serve.

My kids kept saying that they wouldn't eat the pumpkin, but they both did. A good way to get kids to eat squash, right? It was a real treat, and it's fun to see the food coming right out of the dutch oven.

The next time I do this, I'm going to try it with the dutch oven upside down. That is, I'll put the lid on the bottom, on a lid stand over the coals, and put the body of the dutch oven on top, with coals around the legs. That way, when I serve, the lid will look like a tray, and it won't be hidden down in the oven...

Mark has discovered a love of Dutch Oven Cooking. Mark also has other sites and blogs, including and his MoBoy blog.

Mark's Other Blog Posts: Revelations, Mixing Martyrs,


  1. Thanks for the Hallow's post. This is a really cool idea, maybe I'll get the huspa to try it sometime.

    When I was a boy, and picked out pumpkins, I called the long, tall, portrait ones "stanley pumpkins". I'm not sure why the name, but we had a lot of fun carving stanley pumpkins.

  2. I think I will be giving this a try this year. I haven't used my pots much but feel it is time to pull them out again.

  3. Oh, yum. That looks delicious. My husband might die of happiness if I start making dinner in the dutch oven. Now I gotta go see what other recipes you have posted.

  4. Thanks to all for commenting! Though I daresay, I don't want to cause anyone's death, though I suppose if you have to go, it's best to go out smiling, right?



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