During a flurry of activity, I am grateful to Nancy Allen for serving as guest columnist at a time when I have been deeply involved in the Native Daughters’ Enchilada Dinner, followed by the Historical Society’s Harvest Festival Events, and the Pie Contest that I co-sponsor with Robin’s. Now I am looking forward to serving as one of the judges at the Pacific Wildlife Care’s worthy benefit Soupabration! on Sunday, Nov. 5, in Morro Bay; information and tickets are available at soupabration.org.
To market! To market … the Cambria Farmers Market, of course! Autumn is in the air, and it’s time to think pumpkins, winter squashes, sweet potatoes, and warm, aromatic, enticing stews. I am already assembling a guest list for my annual Halloween Pumpkin Stew soirée, a la Cinderella!
Here is the perfect Cambria Harvest Festival recipe: a pumpkin stew, Italian in origin and a centerpiece entrée. Served with a mushroomed green salad, crusty baguette, and a scoop of gelato or sorbet for dessert, you’ve achieved the buono tavola — good table. The recipe is easier than it reads, and it’s worth every ounce of effort (pun intended).
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One 10-to-12-pound pumpkin
1/4 cup butter, divided into 4 tablespoons
2 pounds lean beef stew meat, 1-inch cubes
1/2 cup dark brown sugar
3 tblsp. cinnamon
2 tblsp.olive oil
3 tblsp.brandy (optional)
1 cup onion, chopped
1 bunch green onions, sliced up to green part
1/2 cup green pepper, chopped
3 large cloves garlic, minced
3 cups beef stock
1 cup Sherry
3 medium tomatoes, peeled and chopped
1 bay leaf
1 tsp.salt and pepper to taste
1 1/2 pounds each white potatoes and sweet potatoes, 1/2-inch cubes
1/2-pound zucchini, 1/4-inch slice
3 ears corn, cut in one-inch rounds, or scraped off the cob for ease in eating
16 dried apricots, halved
16 prunes, pitted, halved
To prepare pumpkin: about 4 inches down from stem, slice pumpkin to form a lid 6 to 7 inches in diameter. Clean out inside of pumpkin. Brush inside of shell with melted butter, to which brown sugar and cinnamon are mixed. With lid on, set pumpkin on a baking sheet and bake at 375 degrees for about 45 minutes; shell should be just tender, not soft. Reserve juices to add to stew.
To prepare stew: in a large saucepan or Dutch oven, heat olive oil over medium heat. In four batches, brown beef cubes on all sides. Transfer to a bowl and pour off any fat. Add brandy to pan; bring to a boil. Stir in onion, green onions, green pepper, and garlic for about 5 minutes.
Pour in beef stock and Sherry, boil briskly, scraping up the cooked bits on the bottom. Return meat and pumpkin juices to pan. Stir in tomatoes, bay leaf, salt, pepper, and oregano. Cover pan and simmer over low heat for 20 minutes. Add white and sweet potatoes, cover and cook 30 minutes more. Stir in zucchini, cooking 10 minutes; add corn, apricots and prunes. Simmer covered for 5 minutes.
Place pumpkin on an oven-proof platter. Spoon stew into pumpkin shell, replace lid and bake at 375 degrees for 20 minutes. To serve, ladle stew into bowls or large rimmed plates. Place pumpkin on the table as a centerpiece to serve seconds with ease. Serves 6-8.
Consuelo Macedo’s column is special to The Cambrian. Submit recipes and ideas to her at The Cambrian, 2068 Main St., Cambria, CA 93428, or email her at email@example.com.