The Time of the Pumpkin
People can sometimes be intimidated by cooking with the humble pumpkin, but don’t be! It really is much like preparing a squash. In fact, if you want to truly get to know a pumpkin-- I recommend making your own pumpkin puree, for pie filling and a whole host of other uses. First, pick up a small 3-6 pound pumpkin, ideally one that’s called a “sugar” pumpkin. That’s the variety that Libby’s purees for their canned mixes.
Halve the pumpkin with a good, sharp knife, and scoop out the seeds and fibers. Put the pumpkin cut-side down in a baking dish, and add a half inch of water. Roast at 350* until the pumpkin is fork tender. Once the pumpkin is cool, you can scoop the roasted pumpkin from the skin and use how you see fit-- in a pie, in quick breads, or even cut into chunks and added to a creamy risotto.
Another use for that batch of pumpkin puree you just whipped up is to use it in a cocktail. This holiday punch from Serious Eats columnist Kelly Carambula is a real winner. To craft this punch, first make a bottle of cinnamon-infused rum. This may sound hard, but I assure you, it’s not. It only takes a little bit of planning ahead.
To make the infused rum, combine 3 cinnamon sticks and 1 750-milliliter bottle of dark rum in a wide-mouthed jar. Seal and keep in a dark place for 3 days, gently shaking every day. Once the rum has retained the desired amount of cinnamon flavor, remove the cinnamon sticks and pour back into the original rum bottle.
Now that you have your pumpkin puree and your cinnamon-infused rum ready, combine 10 ounces of the puree with 10 ounces of infused rum in a large punch bowl. Add in 10 ounces sweetened condensed milk and 10 dashes of Angostura bitters. Gently stir until fully combined. Sprinkle freshly grated nutmeg over the entire punch bowl and presto! You have a delicious punch to serve at all of your holiday parties.