georgeanne brennan’s pumpkin gratin

Get in the Halloween spirit with this delicious Provençal pumpkin gratin.

In My Culinary Journey: Food and Fêtes of Provence, Georgeanne writes:

Musquée de Provence is the pumpkin found throughout Provence. Small ones weigh fifteen pounds, and large ones up to forty, but they are distinguished more by their appearance and flavor than by their size. The skin is the color of new copper with a finish of dull green, and the shape is squat and round, deeply and asymmetrically convoluted and lobed. After harvesting in late fall, the pumpkins are taken to the cave, or cellar, where they will keep until spring. When they are needed in the kitchen, a slice is cut, often only a lobe or two, and the rest is left in storage. In markets throughout the region, they are sold in the same manner by the slice. The pumpkins are displayed stacked, usually with one already sliced open and a sign indicating the price by the kilogram. The dense meat is bright orange, and after cooking, it has a nutty flavor and creamy texture.

2 pounds Musquée de Provence pumpkin, Sugar Pie pumpkin, or butternut squash
1½ tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons fresh thyme leaves
½ teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper or other ground dried chili pepper
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
2½ tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
¼ cup grated Gruyère or Swiss cheese
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Peel the squash, remove the seeds, and cut the
flesh into ½-inch cubes. Place the cubes in a bowl and sprinkle them with the flour,
thyme leaves, salt, and ground chili. Coat the cubes by turning and tossing with two
spoons. Place half of the butter in a small gratin dish, just large enough to hold the
cubes snugly in a jumbled single layer. Pour the olive oil into the bottom of the baking
dish. Transfer the coated squash to the dish. Cut the remaining butter into small pieces
and dot the top of the gratin.
Bake until the squash is somewhat tender, about 45 minutes. Remove from the oven
and sprinkle the cheese on top. Return to the oven and continue to cook until the
squash is thoroughly tender when pierced with the tines of a fork, 10 to 15 minutes.
Serve hot.

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