The turducken is a modern abomination. Food should not be sewn inside other food like an edible chimera. It is, in fact, a form of engastration, which is a recipe method in which one animal is stuffed inside the gastric passage of another. Stuff your turkey all day long in its natural cavity, the way God intended. Stuff it with sausage or oysters or ostrich, like we did one Thanksgiving a dozen years ago when we were young and single and living in Brooklyn. After our feast that included ramen mashed potatoes and which we ate with plates on our laps in front of the TV, we went to see 8 Mile at the Court Street Theater with our friend Adam: a very good in-your-twenties DIY holiday. But don’t flay it open, layer in the flesh of another fowl bird or three and fold it all together neatly as if it were meant to be that way. Forever unclean.
I do very much enjoy food served inside other foods, as do we all, I’m assuming. Soup is a bread bowl is the classic example. I don’t know who invented it, but I am a fan. So, now that I’ve whet your appetite, I’m here today to talk about the greatest thing I’ve done culinary perhaps ever. It is visually impressive and as delicious. It fills your home with the fragrance of fall and feasting while it cooks and looks smashing on the dining room table for a party. I really like the idea of doing this the night before a holiday, when family has arrived from far-flung places and are crashing in guest rooms, pull out couches, and some weird uncle in a tent in the backyard. You could order a dozen pizzas and call it done or add one more home cooked meal to the proceedings. Later that night, everyone is in pajamas, there’s a fire roaring in the fireplace, board games are played with Elf on the television in the background. It’s kind of the best part.
A few notes about ingredients. The chorizo must be of the greasy red Mexican variety, it should be very loose and cooks down into a dust. You don’t want a Spanish slicing chorizo as it won’t fully integrate into the cheese sauce the way this does. The pasta I like to use is orechiette, because it holds the cheese sauce so well, but elbows or shells or even twisties would also be great. The pumpkin really imparts great flavor into the dish, complementing the spicy chorizo. I kept the cheese simple, using a good, sharp but not super expensive Tillamook cheddar. I cannot wait to make this again for company.
- 1 2-3 lb sugar pie pumpkin
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 1 teaspoon olive oil
- 8 oz Mexican chorizo, removed from casing
- 2 cups whole milk
- 4 fresh sage leaves
- 3 tablespoons butter
- 1 tablespoon minced shallot
- 2 tablespoons flour
- 6 ounces sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
- 1 lb pasta
- Preheat oven to 350. Line a baking sheet with foil. Cut the top off the pumpkin at a 45 degree angle, as you would to make a jack 0 lantern. Scoop out the seeds and stringy bits. You want the inside pretty clean. Season with salt and pepper Put the top back on pumpkin and bake, 45 minutes.
- In a medium sized sauté pan over medium heat add the olive oil and chorizo. Cook 10 minutes.
- In a small saucepan over medium-low heat warm the milk with the sage steeping in it.
- In a medium sized saucepan over medium-low heat melt the butter and add the shallot. Whisk in the flour, stirring constantly for 2 minutes. Slowly pour in the warmed milk and whisk until well combined. Turn up the heat and thicken the sauce. Season with salt and pepper.
- Meanwhile, cook the past al dente and drain.
- Slowly stir in the cheese, a small handful at a time. Then stir chorizo into béchamel. Mix the cooked pasta into the sauce. Ladle into the pumpkin and put the top back on. Bake 45 minutes. Let it sit 10 minutes before serving. Scrape pumpkin into every bowl.