Saturday, October 22, 2016

Sugar Pie Pumpkins, oven or pressure cooker

My CSA box has brought lots of lovely goodies to my door, and since it's customizable I was able to add a second pumpkin to this week's delivery. I thought it would be a great chance to play around with different ways to prep them and see what works for me. Sugar pie pumpkins are the kind you want to buy to eat, as opposed to the giant Jack-O-Lantern kind. Ironically, they're not as sweet as, say, a butternut squash, which explains why those are so much more popular. Each of these was about 2 lbs and yielded about 1 lb of edible pumpkin. Summary of directions at the bottom. 

I decided to try oven roasting and my electric pressure cooker. 

To oven roast, I first started pre-heating the oven to 425 (it didn't set off the smoke detector today--woo hoo!) and quartered the pumpkin. You have to have a VERY sharp knife for this and do it carefully. Don't try to cut through the stem because it's extremely hard. Put the tip of the knife in just below it and cut down from there, then turn the pumpkin over and complete the circular cut. Pull the two halves apart. 

With a big spoon, scoop out the seeds and stringy stuff. Separate them, tossing the stringy stuff in the compost and saving the seeds to roast later. Yumma yumma. 

Line a baking sheet with foil and lightly oil the foil. You can use cooking spray, but I think it tastes funky. I just drizzle on a little olive oil and spread it around with my fingers. You can use a neutral tasting oil if you're going to use the pumpkin for pie or another dessert, but I'm going to make a savory soup. 

When the oven reaches 425, put in the pan and set a timer for 20 minutes. After that time, turn the pieces over and put them back in the oven. Set the timer for 10 minutes and start checking the pumpkin for doneness at that point, adding 5-10 more minutes at a time if needed. It's done when the skin get soft and a fork goes into each piece very easily.

Remove from the oven when done and let cool before peeling, or serve as is as a side vegetable. I hated winter squash as a kid but learned to like it eating it just simply roasted like that. Puree if you want to use it for desserts, or cut in chunks for other things. 

For the electric pressure cooker: set the rack in the inner liner and add 1 cup of water. 

Put the whole pumpkin on the rack--yep, the whole thing--and set the steam program for 12 minutes (more time for a pumpkin over 2 lbs, less for smaller or a pumpkin cut in half). Secure the lid. After the 12 minutes are up, let the pot cool down for another ten minutes and then carefully release any remaining 

When you open the lid, voila! Let it cool down before you try to peel it. 

Peel the pumpkin and remove the seeds and stringy stuff from the middle. As above, cut up the pumpkin in chunks and serve with your favorite seasonings or puree for other recipes. Here are both after they were cooked:

So, which method did I prefer? I really enjoyed the pressure-cooked one more. The texture was better and the flavor wasn't any less sweet than the roasted one, even though that technique is supposed to caramelize the natural sugars. HOWEVER, the seeds that were removed before cooking were a lot easier to separate from the yucky stringy stuff, so next time I'll cut it in half and remove them before using the PC...I'll cut back the time to 7 or 8 min. For other squashes like butternut and spaghetti, I'll keep cooking them whole. 

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