Saturday, 21 September 2013

Pumpkin Seafood Crossover

Pumpkins during Halloween need not be relegated to the carved variety that you adorn your front yard with. It can turn into the creamiest pumpkin cooking recipes with clams served on the shell. It’s a truly fabulous winter dish to warm the stomach and the soul. Just like choosing the perfect pumpkins to carve, you must also choose the best pumpkins to cook. Pick the one that is free of blemishes and gouges because you will be using the rest of the pumpkin as the serving vessel for the soup. Likewise, it will look attractive and unique as a centerpiece in the dinner table.

The dish is served at Le Trianon Palace’s Les Trois Marches restaurant. In this demonstration by Chef Gerard Vie, he really chose the pumpkin that could make for a good-looking bowl. It should also be prepared and cut carefully so it remains steady when placed on the table. The key is to select squat-shaped pumpkins instead of upright for better balance. Some examples of pumpkin varieties with bowl-like shapes are Cinderella or Rouge Vif d’Etampes pumpkins. Since the inside will be used, the chef removes it from the beautiful pumpkin shell using a sharp knife to cut off the top and scoop out the stringy portion as well as the seeds. Be careful when you cut the lid because it will still be used later on to cover the creamy soup and keep it warm. Do not discard it. Make a clean incision angling the blade a bit when you cut the lid so that it neatly rests on top of the pumpkin and looks attractive, whether you put it on or take it off. The pumpkin is then baked in a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.

Bake the pumpkin only just as it begins to soften. Be careful not to overcook the pumpkin or the shell won’t hold and support the weight of the pumpkin puree. You only want to soften the flesh so that you can easily scrape it out from the shell. Remove from the oven and cool the pumpkin before you scoop out the flesh. The shell should be intact and just thick enough to support the thick puree that will be ladled on it. While you are baking the pumpkin, steam the clams until the shells open up. Serve this darling of a soup with a bottle of Cote du Rhone ou Anjou blanc.

1 small pumpkin weighing about 3 lbs.
2 pints clams
1 cup cream
0.44 lbs. butter
1 leek white
1 onion
salt, pepper

1. Cut off the top of the pumpkin. Remove seeds and stringy matter. Place in a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Bake in a 375 degree oven until the flesh is tender and easy to scrape. Use a spoon to remove the flesh inside. Be careful not to scrape too much from the bottom of the pumpkin or it might break.

2. Steam clams in salted water until the shells open up.

3. Sautee the pumpkin flesh with leeks, onions, 3.5 oz. butter, 1/2 gallon water (or better: bouillon), salt, and pepper. Stir well with an electric mixer to puree. Add cream and butter. Continue mixing until smooth and creamy.

4. Open the cooked clams. Recover the meat from each shell. Season. Add the clams to the pumpkin cream. Do not let the mixture boil any more.

5. Carefully pour the pumpkin cream into the prepared pumpkin shell. Place the lid back on the pumpkin to cover it and keep it warm. Serve.

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