I'm P.C., and I have studied food and cooking around the world, mostly by eating, but also through serious study. Coursework at Le Cordon Bleu London and intensive courses in Morocco, Thailand and France have broadened my culinary skill and palate. But my kitchen of choice is at home, cooking like most people, experimenting with unique but practical ideas.

I live, mostly in my kitchen, in my hometown of Memphis, Tennessee.

Pumpkin Cornbread

I love cooking with pumpkin, so Halloween and the dawn of autumn present all sorts of opportunities in the kitchen.  I have always been obsessed with sweet pumpkin dishes, but I have been expanding my repertoire to savory ideas as well.

Working with fresh pumpkin is not difficult, you just need to be careful and use a good, sturdy knife.  The texture of freshly grated pumpkin is a world away from the standard canned puree.  If you have a half or a wedge of pumpkin leftover, brush it with olive oil and roast it after you’ve made the cornbread.  Scoop out the soft puree and use it to make soup or jazz up mashed potatoes.  You can even freeze it for later.  I love the garlic notes in this, but if it is not your thing, leave it out.  And a generous grinding of black pepper adds real pep.  This cornbread is delicious with a bowl of soup or chili, toasted and spread with butter.

Pumpkin Cornbread

2 -3 pound pie pumpkin, to make 11 ounces grated flesh

5 Tablespoons butter

1 cup all-purpose flour

¾ cups yellow cornmeal

1 Tablespoon baking powder

1 Tablespoon granulated sugar

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

¼ teaspoon nutmeg

1 cup milk

2 eggs

1 clove garlic, pressed

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

Using a big, sturdy, sharp knife, cut the pumpkin in half and scoop out all the seeds and fibrous center. Cut one pumpkin half into wedges and carefully cut away the skin.  Cut the flesh into chunks and grate it in the food processor or using a large box grater.  If you use a food processor and the grated strands are very long, run a knife through them to cutthe strands down to size. Weigh out the flesh, and cut and grate more pieces to reach 11 ounces.

Place one Tablespoon butter in a 9-inch round baking dish and place it in the oven.

In a large bowl, toss the flour, cornmeal, baking powder, sugar, salt, pepper and nutmeg together with a fork.  Add the grated pumpkin and tossto coat. Make a well in the center and add the milk, butter and eggs.  Stir with fork to mix well.  Put the garlic clove through a garlic press, then stir the batter to make sure it is evenly distributed.

Remove the baking dish from the oven and use a pastry brush to spread the melted butter up and around the sides of the pan.  Quickly scrape the batter into the dish and return to the oven.  Cook for 20 – 25 minutes until puffed, firm and golden and a tester inserted in the center comes out clean. Serve warm from baking or toasted.

Serves 6 – 8

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