October 30, 2003

Culinarious?

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Halloween is right around the corner, as are the many stands that sell pumpkins on the side of the road. Traditionally, pumpkins only play two important roles during the fall season: Jack-o-lanterns for Halloween and pumpkin pie for Thanksgiving. Pumpkins are underrated. Cooking with pumpkin can be quite good, especially at this time of the year. If cooked properly, the true earthy flavors and natural sweetness of the pumpkin are revealed, which is not the case in many instances. For example, the canned pumpkin product sold in stores for pie filling is a terrible representation of what pumpkin is supposed to taste like. The same goes for any store bought pumpkin product, including the pumpkin pies from the bakery. These poor representations of the vegetable are due to overcooking and over processing, which destroys the natural flavor. Fresh pumpkins are easy to come by, but difficult at times to prepare. In preparing a pumpkin, make sure to purchase one that is only a few pounds. Pumpkins of this size are easier to clean and prepare. Large pumpkins can be rather a task.

The following recipe is simple and gives justice to the natural flavor of the pumpkin. The recipe includes a suggested wine pairing as well, in which I have a selected wine from the Rhone Valley. The Rhone Valley is located in the southeast part of France. It produces a number of great wines, especially for those who are seeking value at a lower price point. In this case, specific attention should be directed to a designation named the Cotes-du-Rhone. The wines of the Cotes-du-Rhone are generally known for their drinkibility at a young age, as well as having some age-worthiness. The wines combine appeasing, old world characteristics of earthiness and robustness with a good amount of fruit in the finish.

Caramelized Pumpkin with Brown Butter, Sage & Pecorino Romano (Serves 4)

Ingredients:

1 Small pumpkin (3-4 pounds)

2 Tablespoons butter

4 Leaves of sage

2 Tablespoons Pecorino Romano, grated

Kosher salt, to taste

Cracked black pepper, to taste

To prepare:

1. Clean pumpkin by removing the outer layer of skin with a sharp knife. Slice the pumpkin in half, and remove the seeds with a spoon.

2. Dice flesh of the pumpkin into 1/2 inch pieces.

3. In a saut

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