Friday, October 26, 2018

Pig in a Pumpkin – Trick and Treat

Okay, so we’re not using a whole pig, but we are using a whole pumpkin, which not only produced some very succulent, flavorful pork, but also made for an absolutely stunning presentation. This looked so good, that many people might think it was faked, which really is the ultimate compliment.

While this would work in any pumpkin, try to find ones sold as “sugar,” or “pie” pumpkins,” since they have a thicker, sweeter flesh, compared to the ornamental ones sold for jack-o'-lantering. I believe the variety I used was called “cannonball,” but simply look for round, heavy-feeling varieties about the size of a volleyball, displayed in the produce department, and not outside, or in front of the store.

As I said in the video, you can season this anyway you want, but regardless of what exactly goes in your gourd, make sure you roast it until the meat is tender. How long will depend on the size of course, so be sure to test the meat as it cooks. The only thing I’d do differently next time, would be to pour in a little more cider after a few hours in the oven, since a lot of it evaporated as it roasted, and I wanted more “sauce” when I was done.

After you remove the meat for service, ladle out all the braising liquid, and let it sit for a few minutes, so you can skim off most of the fat. Thanks to the little bit of flour on the pork, it should have a nice thickness, but you can always adjust that with some more roux. Or, simply make a sauce separately, and then just spike it with your drippings.

Also, if you wanted to add another step, you could use a blender to make a smoother sauce, but I’ll leave that up to you. Either way, if you’re looking for a fun, and very seasonably appropriate way to cook some pork shoulder, I couldn’t think of a better, or more beautiful way, which is why I really hope you give this a try soon. Enjoy!


Ingredients for one Pig in a Pumpkin:
1 volleyball-sized cooking pumpkin
3 1/2 to 4 pounds of boneless pork shoulder
1 rounded tablespoon kosher salt (the pumpkin will absorb some of this)
2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1 teaspoon crushed fennel seeds
1 tablespoon freshly chopped rosemary
1/3 cup thinly sliced shallots
- garlic and sage would have also been great here
2 tablespoons flour to coat pork
1 tablespoon olive oil for browning meat
at least 2 cups hard cider, or more if you can fit it in before or during cooking

- I roasted mine at 350 F. for about 4 hours
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56 comments:

Unknown said...

This looks absolutely incredible! Any chance you think this would work well with beef brisket or chuck roast?

Robert said...

That's literally the most beautifully cooked pumpkin I've ever seen. Definitely going to be trying this.

BTW, I made your sticky garlic pork chops exactly as shown with the sole exception of half the heat.(and both my parents were full blooded Texans. it's shameful I know).

An absolutely fantastic dish.

You are by far my favorite chef on YT.

kinjun ranger said...

Definitely one of the best looking recipes Chef John. Thank you again.

pat leyland said...

this is awesome idea John :) only thing i would ask is how did you feel about the amount of rosemary ? and fresh over dried. bit gun shy from rosemary over powering some of my sauces and seems little you can do once that happens :(

Tihai ck said...

beautiful , I have a question since I don't eat pork can I use beef tenderloin or new York strip for this recipe

Kennapop3 said...

Okay, you got me. I'm off to buy a pie pumpkin, sprouts and a pretty white roaster.

Unknown said...

Chef John....I'm missing you dude. Although I really appreciate your video recipes, wit and fabulous instruction, I haven't noticed any recent replies to comments left on your blog AND I haven't found your recent written recipes on line. I made a recipe a month ago based on your video and when I was bragging about you in the office someone asked for a copy of the recipe, which i didn't have and couldn't find on line. Point me/us in the right direction. Thanks in advance.

Pam Packard said...

What would happen if we just used regular apple cider? Without alcohol. How would that change the flavor?

Unknown said...

Could you use brisket in this?

crystal villarreal said...

Hi Chef! I will definitely be using this technique to make grandma's stuffing this year for Thanksgiving. Side note...I think cannonball pumpkins are ornamental. Maybe you had a Cinderella or Long Pie or New England pie variety. Regardless, looks amazing as always! Happy holidays!

Unknown said...

You mentioned in the video that this would also be a good way to cook stuffing for Thanksgiving. Can you say more about that?

Neal Opalka said...

How much did the pumpkin weigh?

Unknown said...

This dish is magnificent! I shared this with my family and they went crazy for the end result! Thank you so much for not only the amazing recipe, but for the beautiful presentation Chef John! :D

Edward said...

Just saw the video of this, totally making it for the annual Christmas we have at work!

Marcus in LaPorte IN said...

Thanks Chef John for the concept. Gotta try this next week. I will sear my pork on my gas grill, since I already have an impermeable layer of grease on my kitchen cabinets :) What do you think of using a combination of cider and white wine for the braising liquid?

Ali House said...

Piece de resistance!

rjnerd said...

Going to foodwishes.com generates an error, says name doesn’t match security certificate. Using the path foodwishes.blogsput.com does.

Ruth Johnston said...

Do you think a turkey breast could be prepaired
this way?

Ruth Johnston said...

Could a turkey breast be prepared in this same way?

The Maker's Acres said...

Just saw this on YouTube, OMG. My 4 year old grandson wanted to know where the pig was! We explained you were just being funny. He laughed and laughed while we drooled. Going for a pig tomorrow!

Unknown said...

Looks delicious and also a use of very old cooking methodology. Pumpkin is a great ancient crock pot. What other than cider could go in for the alcohol, do you think?

Michael said...

Any idea if this can be smoked and if so how long?

Rebecca said...

That pig in a pumpkin looks exquisite! I made your pasta alla Genovese yesterday and was amazed at the depth of flavor. So, so good. I always have to cook Thanksgiving dinner, which combines a lot of dishes I don't love, but I do it for my 86 year old Dad, who loves that meal. His favorite dish is creamed pearl onions, which I always do, but they routinely come out kind of, meh. Either the sauce breaks while they're cooking or there's too much sauce, or something. Always a problem. Have you ever done them? My recipe has in some brandy, nutmeg, parmesan and cheddar on top ... standard white sauce, it really shouldn't be as hard as it continually is. Can you show us how to do it right?

Unknown said...

What kind of hard cider did you use?

Unknown said...

What kind of cider did you use?

james hosford said...

Hi Chef John, so I can't eat pork, can I do this with beef or lamb.
thanks love your show.

Candy said...

That is a pretty darn interesting idea.I think pork is a good choice for pumpkin pairing, now that it has been paired that is.

Michael said...

Anyone know if this would work in a smoker if so how long?

JC Roth said...

Orange hair.

I'm dyin'...

Unknown said...

I am wondering if this method would work if you bake port mince in apples.

Unknown said...

Is there a specific type of hard cider you would suggest, or is it just a matter of personal preference?

Suzan Platzer said...

I have a question on pig in a pumpkin. My pumpkin is 15" in diameter and weighs 26 lbs. How much did yours weigh and how would I adjust the lbs of pork and cook time. I'm super excited to make this for Thanksgiving. Love your videos and blog.

Suzan Platzer said...

Pig in a pumpkin. Thanks. For any suggestions on my large 26 lb pumpkin. Suzan

Ronn Paolucci said...

Successfully made pig in a pumpkin! Thanks

Unknown said...

I feel strongly that this recipe should include some sage. I'm goingg to try it as soon as I find a good pumpkin. I'll let you know if I'm right.

Jessica said...

This recipe was amazing, made it for dinner tonight. I used pork loin and it was great, sadly one piece of the meat couldn't fit in my pumpkin so I had to finish that on the stove! Definitely recommend trying while you can still get pie pumpkins at the store.

Jeff said...

What other meats might be cooked this way?

Karen said...

How long would you cook stuffing this way? 2 hours? I’m trying this with pork tomorrow. Looks fun and tasty.

Toklineman said...

I am about to try this--it is prepped and will go in the oven in an hour. I could not find a volleyball-sized pie pumpkin, so I am doing two small ones, about 6 inches in diameter.
Something you may wish to acquire if you are going to hollow out more gourds is a woodcarver's hook. I happened to have one on hand--a dear friend asked me to carve him an urn back in '01, and a hook is essential for smoothing out the inside of an ash urn. It works a treat on pumpkins, too, being sharp and capable of shaving the flesh. I get tools at Lee Valley, and here is their present selection of hooks:
http://www.leevalley.com/us/Wood/page.aspx?p=76785&cat=1,130,43332,43393&ap=1
Mine is like the smaller one, with the full curve, though I suspect either would work.

Toklineman said...

OK, the smaller pumpkins I probably stuffed with too much meat, so they resisted the addition of cider later on, but that aside, the dish was a hit with GF and myself. We were even eating the uncarbonized pumpkin skin, and the pork was delicious. I shall try to get larger pie pumpkins next time and not fill them so full, in hopes of more sauce (though the sauce flavor had imbued the pumpkin flesh from top to bottom). This recipe is a keeper.

#Dadlife said...

I made this. It was great! I had lots of leftover pumpkin meat and juices, so I pureed that with some creme fresh and simmered in a pot.
Thanks Chef John!

Jim said...

Made it, and it was great! I had a lot of pumpkin and juices left over so I pureed them together, added some Creme fraiche (home made from foodwishes video) to have as a bisque later this week.
Thanks Chef John!

Nmvoi said...

Tried this with fresh turkey thighs and otherwise followed the same recipe and method, and it worked great!
I don't really like turkey for thanksgiving, but I think I can serve a little bit of turkey this way if anyone feels they are missing out (besides, how could I miss this great display for Thanksgiving!).

Here were the differences to make this work with turkey:
- I could only find smaller pie pumpkins, so my recipe was much smaller (I used 1.5lbs of fresh turkey thighs, and completely filled the pumpkin was just under 4lbs)
- During the browning stage I added a lot of extra olive oil to make up for pork being much fattier than turkey, and kept the extra in the pumpkin
- I baked at 325 F for 3 hours, due to smaller recipe size (internal temp was at least 165 F, per USDA recommendations for turkey)

Unfortunately the USDA doesn't have clear recommendations for braising turkey, but this seemed to work out ok.

I always love the recipes and ideas on this blog, thanks again Chef John!

Unknown said...

Chef John you outdid yourself on this one. It was fantastic my only regret is the season for pie pumpkins is almost gone. This is going into my all time favorite recipe's. Made it for my Tuesday night card group and got nothing less than rave reviews and the pumpkin flesh scooped out was beyond good. Sharon

YourHermione said...

Do you think this would work with a turkey breast, as an alternative to a traditional roast turkey?

Katchups said...

Love this recipe so much! I've made it once already and plan to make it again tomorrow to take to a potluck. It is so incredibly delicious!

DailySampler said...

Chef John,
Love this idea, but was curious about roasting the whole pumpkin without the pork. How much time do you think it would take?

Unknown said...

Does it have to be hard cider? If not, what can I substitute the cider with?

Brenda Galvez said...

Could one possibly brine the pork shoulder pieces in the pumpkin overnight for stronger flavor payoff?

Jim said...

I got my sister to try this. She couldn't find a pie pumpkin the size of a volleyball, so used a smaller one. The walls were thinner than the one in the video and it only took 2 1/2 hours to cook. It split and kind of collapsed, but was still very tasty. She used fresh fennel and pear cider. I only have small pie pumpkins near me, a little bigger than a softball. I thought I would braise the pork beforehand in a pot, to make sure it is cooked, then put it inside the mini pumpkins so each person can have one. That way I can make sure the meat is tender and cooked and only have to worry about cooking the pumpkin. I'm not sure if I should go with low temp or high temp with these much smaller pumpkins, what do you think?

Jeff said...

What would you recommend as a non pork alternative meat to use? (I ask as a vegetarian tasked with cooking for a Hannukah party; so please excuse my ignorance)

Marie Gamalski said...

This was delicious...the only thing I’d have changed, is next time I will “pre-braise in a pan, THEN add into the pumpkin for several hours of baking in the oven....my shoulder took 5hrs in pumpkin, which led to over browning of the gourd, fine for taste, but less visually pleasing....great idea, thanks John��

Marie Gamalski said...

This was delicious...the only thing I’d have changed, is next time I will “pre-braise in a pan, THEN add into the pumpkin for several hours of baking in the oven....my shoulder took 5hrs in pumpkin, which led to over browning of the gourd, fine for taste, but less visually pleasing....great idea, thanks John��

Designs by Amalia said...

Thank you, for sharing Pig in a Pumpkin.

Our son made it for Thanksgiving dinner. He use more liquid. I took the leftover pumpkin and the 2 cup of the left ovver broth and made the best pumpkin soup.

Ben Allen, San Antonio, TX said...

This recipe was FANTASTIC! This was the best thing I've cooked in a long time!

Daniel Webb said...

I couldn't find a pie pumpkin large enough so I roasted it in a clay pot. Very Very good. Will slice pumpkin pieces in the clay pot next time which will probably be this weekend.