Chef's Recipes

Salt-baked pumpkin with Pyengana cream and toasted grains

This is an impressive entrée to bring to the table. Crack open the crust at the table so your guests get the scent of pumpkin, then take it to the kitchen to finish the presentation.

By Peter Gilmore
  • Serves 8 - 10
  • 40 mins preparation
  • 2 hrs cooking (plus preparing fire pit, resting)
Salt-baked pumpkin with Pyengana cream and toasted grains
Salt-baked pumpkin with Pyengana cream and toasted grains

"This is an impressive entrée to bring to the table," says Gilmore. "Crack open the crust at the table so your guests get the scent of pumpkin, then take it to the kitchen to finish the presentation." Gilmore bakes the pumpkin in a fire pit of hot coals, but has given an oven method, too. If you're cooking it in a fire pit, prepare it a few hours ahead so you have a deep layer of hot coals.

Ingredients

  • 1 small Kent or medium potimarron pumpkin (1.5kg-2.25kg; see note)
  • Rock salt, for baking
  • 2 tbsp pepitas
  • 2 tbsp sunflower seeds
  • 50 gm unsalted butter, coarsely chopped
  • 30 gm puffed quinoa (see note) (1¼ cups)
  • 30 gm puffed barley (see note) (½ cup)
  • 30 gm puffed wild rice (see note) (½ cup)
Salt-crust dough
  • 600 gm plain flour (4 cups)
  • 300 gm sea salt
  • 120 gm eggwhite (about 4)
Pyengana cheddar cream
  • 20 gm finely chopped golden shallots (1-2 shallots)
  • 1 garlic clove, finely chopped
  • 20 gm unsalted butter
  • 400 ml pouring cream
  • 150 gm finely grated Pyengana cheddar, or another hard cheese

Method

Main
  • 1
    For salt-crust dough, mix flour, salt, eggwhite
    and 250ml cold water in an electric mixer fitted
    with a dough hook until the mixture comes
    together, then transfer to a floured surface and
    knead until smooth (2-3 minutes). Wrap in plastic
    wrap and rest for 1 hour.
  • 2
    If you’re using the oven, preheat oven to 190C.
    Roll out salt-crust dough to 5mm thick, place
    pumpkin in the centre and wrap in dough to
    cover it fully, pinching dough to seal. Pierce two
    small holes in the top of the pumpkin with a
    skewer, through pastry and into flesh, to allow
    steam to escape. Place pumpkin on a bed of rock
    salt in a baking dish and bake (or bury in the hot
    coals of the fire pit) until pumpkin is cooked and
    internal temperature on an inserted probe
    thermometer reaches 85C (1¼ hours for a 1.5kg
    pumpkin and up to 1¾ hours for 2.25kg pumpkin).
    Set aside to rest for 20 minutes, then place on a
    tray or plate and crack open the pastry.
  • 3
    Meanwhile, for Pyengana cream, sauté shallots
    and garlic in butter in a saucepan over low heat
    until soft and translucent (8-10 minutes). Add
    cream, increase heat, bring to the boil and cook
    until reduced by a third (3-4 minutes). Reduce
    heat to very low, scatter in cheddar and whisk
    until melted. Keep warm, or reheat gently to serve.
  • 4
    Reduce oven to 180C. Roast pepitas and
    sunflower seeds on an oven tray lined with baking
    paper or on a silicone oven tray until lightly
    golden (6-8 minutes). Leave to cool. Melt butter
    in a non-stick frying pan over medium-high heat until foaming. Add puffed quinoa, barley and wild
    rice, toss to coat, then add roasted pepitas and
    sunflower seeds, and toss to combine and warm
    through (30-40 seconds). Season to taste and
    mix for a minute off the heat. Keep warm or
    gently reheat to serve.
  • 5
    Slice pumpkin into wedges, remove seeds and
    fibrous centre and peel the skin away with a knife.
    The pumpkin should be meltingly soft and tender.
    Place a wedge on each serving plate, spoon
    cheese sauce on top, sprinkle generously with
    grains and seeds and serve.

Notes

Potimarron, a French heirloom pumpkin, is available from Johnstone’s Kitchen Gardens (johnstonefarmer.com) and farmers’ markets. Puffed quinoa and barley are available from health-food shops or royalnutcompany.com.au. For puffed wild rice, deep-fry 25gm uncooked wild rice for 10-20 seconds at 190C, then remove with a fine skimmer or drain in a sieve and cool on paper towels; otherwise use regular puffed rice.
Drink Suggestion: 2008 Canobolas-Smith “Shine” Chardonnay, Orange, NSW, or 2015 KT Rosé, Clare Valley, SA. Drink suggestion by Russ Mills & Amanda Yallop