• chefalisonbiebs

Caramelized Onion and Pork Stuffed Mini Pumpkins

I found these cute mini pumpkins on a farmers market trip over the weekend and couldn't resist picking a few for stuffing!

I use ground pork shoulder and good quality pork stock in this recipe to give the filling a richness that compliments roasted squash's delicious, soft, and slightly sweet flesh.

The filling for this recipe is versatile and can be paired with many different types of squash. You may also want to try using it as stuffing for cabbage rolls instead of the pumpkins. Happy cooking!

Yield: 4-6 mini pumpkins; depending on the size.

Preparation time: 1–1½ hours

Cook time: 1–1½ hours

1 lb pork shoulder

3 tbsp canola oil; alternatively you can use rendered pork fat or bacon fat in this recipe

2 yellow onions, diced small

2 small carrots (¾ cup), diced small

1 stick of celery (¼ cup), diced small

2 cloves of garlic, sliced thin

½ cup white wine

½ cup white rice

2½ cups good quality pork stock

2 tsp fresh thyme, chopped

1 cup parmesan cheese, grated

1 tbsp fresh parsley, chopped

4–6 mini pumpkin

Fresh cracked black pepper

Salt to taste

  • Preheat an oven to 375°F.

  • Using a sharp knife, chop the pork shoulder into fine dice. Alternatively, you can use a meat grinder or buy already ground pork. I prefer the texture of the meat when hand chopped. Also using a piece from the shoulder allows me to better control the fat-to-meat ratio than pre-ground pork.

  • Pour 2 tablespoons of canola oil into a large frying pan and heat on medium.

  • Add the onions and saute until they start to brown.

  • Add the carrots and celery, turn the heat down, and cook. Stir often until the vegetables are dark golden brown and caramelized.

  • Add the garlic and cook for about 2 minutes.

  • Remove the vegetables from the pan and set them aside.

  • Place the pan back on high heat and add 1 tablespoon of canola oil and the chopped pork.

  • Cook the pork until it starts to become golden brown, stir occasionally for even browning.

  • Now, deglaze the pan with the white wine and cook until the wine has almost completely evaporated.

  • Add the vegetables back into the pan with the rice and fresh thyme and stir.

  • Pour in the pork stock and turn the heat to a low simmer. I mention using good quality pork stock because the gelatin from the bones should give you a nice consistency in the sauce once it cooks and reduces.

  • Cook until the rice is half cooked and the stock has reduced to a sauce-like consistency, about 15 minutes.

  • Turn the heat off and pour the mixture into a mixing bowl.

  • Let it cool slightly then mix in the parmesan cheese and fresh parsley. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

  • Cut the tops off the mini pumpkins and scoop out all the seeds. Place the tops and hollowed-out squash onto a baking tray.

  • Fill the pumpkins with the pork filling and bake in the oven for 35–40 minutes. The pumpkins should feel soft when slightly squeezed or poked with a sharp pairing knife easily inserted and removed.

  • Remove the stuffed pumpkins from the oven and serve.