“C’mon, c’mon, do the pumpkin with me (again)” by Jurgen Gothe
3 pounds lean beef in 1-inch cubes
¼ cup good olive oil
2 medium onions, chopped
2 cups green pepper, chopped
3 to 4 garlic cloves, chopped
2 tablespoons salt (more or less, to taste)
½ teaspoon black pepper (more or less)
1 big bay leaf
½ teaspoon dried thyme (1 teaspoon if fresh)
2 to 3 tablespoons tomato paste (more, if you want the stew darker)
1 ½ cups red wine
1 ½ cups beef broth (enough liquid to cover everything)
2 cups yellow squash in 1-inch cubes
2 cups carrots in half-inch rounds
2 cups fresh green beans, snapped in half or thirds
1 pound fresh, ripe tomatoes, chopped (or a one-pound can of tomatoes, chopped, drained)
2 cups corn kernels, fresh if you can get it (just cut the cobs into 1 ½ inch rounds – a little messy to eat, but tasty), or use frozen
5 to 6 fresh peaches, peeled, pitted, quartered
Heat the oven to 325F. Make sure meat is dry for browning. Heat the oil in a pan, brown the meat, a few pieces at a time; as they’re done, put them into a big casserole with a lid. You will be cooking the stew in this.
Add onions, peppers, garlic to the oil in the pan (if it’s gotten too grungy, use new oil). Stir over medium heat until the onions get that soft-but-not-browned state. Take everything out with a slotted spoon and add it all to the meat.
Put low heat under the casserole; stir in salt, pepper, tomato paste, bay leaf thyme and stir to mix well. Add wine, turn heat up to medium and put the lid on the pot.
Cook for 15 minutes. Now add the beef broth, stirring up all the stuff from the bottom, and bring to simmer. Cover again and put the whole thing in the oven. Check it in 15 minutes or so and adjust oven temperature to maintain a steady, gentle simmer.
Cook for 1 to 1 ½ hours; you don’t want the meat falling apart. Now add all the vegetables except for the corn, cover and cook another 20 minutes. Add the corn and the peaches and cook another 5 to 10 minutes. Skim any fat off the top; add more salt and pepper if needed. You can stop now and carry on tomorrow or the day after; just put the stew in the fridge, covered.
Doing the pumpkin:
1 medium sized pumpkin (12-inch diameter or more)
½ cup milk
Salt and pepper and Greens for garnish
Cut a good sized lid off the top of the pumpkin. Scrape out all the seeds and fibres. Be careful not to make a hole in the side or the bottom of the pumpkin – leave lots of wall in place. Rinse pumpkin with the milk. Sprinkle inside with salt and pepper.
Put it right side up on a baking sheet or sturdy foil, in a 350 F oven. Bake for about an hour, maybe a little less; you want the flesh tender but not too soft. Put the lid of the pumpkin in to bake for the last 20 minutes.
Reheat the stew on top of the stove and ladle it gently into the pumpkin. Do not pour it all in at once from the pot; it will split the tureen and cover you in stew.
Put the lid on top, sprinkle cress, parsley, greens all around, set on a sturdy serving platter and bring it to the table to squeals of glee from all assembled. Scrape out just a bit of the pumpkin when you serve the stew, being careful not to go through the wall with the ladle.
The stew reheats beautifully once or twice, but not the pumpkin: that’s a one-shot tureen.