Saturday, 1 May 2010

Pumpkin Gratin- when spring isn't living up to expectations!

As I've mentioned in recent entries- spring came, passed, summer came, passed, and we went back to it being late winter. It's been cold, it's been raining, it's been generally the sort of weather where you wish it weren't.

As such, a Sunday dinner of roast lamb, roasted courgettes with thyme, and a pumpkin gratin is definitely comforting.

I love pumpkin. I love buying big slices of it- thick, green and gold ridged skin, bright golden-orange inside. Mm, all the things that can be done with pumpkin! Pumpkin risotto and pumpkin soup are ones that spring to mind immediately- not least because pumpkin with bacon is definitely a happy-making combination.

And it's an easy thing to cook- you peel it (I either use a vegetable peeler or just chop bits off with a sharp knife, depending on the depths of the ridules between sections), chop it, and you're ready to do whatever you want to do with it.

In this case, obviously, gratin.

Now, some of my older French cookbooks say that the problem with pumpkin, and other vegetables such as endive/chicory, when you gratinée them, is the amount of water they ooze out into the surrounding cream, diluting it and making the whole thing taste rather bleah. They therefore recommend a pre-cooking, followed by much squeezing-out of water, followed by the gratin process.

I'll go with that on endive/chicory, but I've never had that problem with pumpkin. I just chop it, chop an onion, chuck them into my dish, stir them around, add black pepper, pour cream over until just below the edge of the dish, and stick it in the oven. In this case, for as long as the lamb took to cook- about 70-80 minutes at 200C.

Result- nice crunchy sweet burnt bits in a few spots on top, and lovely, sweet, creamy pumpkin underneath.

Perfect for an evening when you should have been out all day, but couldn't be without wearing a sou'wester. And I don't own a sou'wester.

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