As we’ve seen in the past few posts,
a wide array of dishes was offered
to those who visited The Israel Crane
House during the 2011 annual Essex
County (NJ) Historic Holiday House Tour.
So far, we’ve reviewed everything from
Apees to Gingerbread Cakes to a Minced
Pie. Now, to complete our culinary tour,
we come to what was most likely the
highlight of this festive feast: the Potato Pumpkin.
An excellent dish for the holiday season, that time when fall
gives way to winter, a Potato Pumpkin offers a unique, and
self-contained, all-in-one meal. Of course, it IS also a fairly
difficult and time-consuming dish, so I prepared and cooked
it entirely at home. Nevertheless, it is also highly appropriate
for the Crane household, as it requires a brick bake oven (due
largely to its height), just like the one in the Crane kitchen.
This delightful dish is basically just a pared and cored pumpkin
that is filled with forcemeat (or what we call today stuffing or
dressing, but with meat), which is then cooked altogether.
Specifically, I followed Mary Randolph’s Potato Pumpkin receipt,
and then for the filing, I employed Hannah Glasse’s instructions
for Forcemeat Balls (the two receipts follow the photos, below).
As expected, it made for quite an awe-inspiring dish during the
recent House Tour and was a major hit with the weekend’s visitors.
My Potato Pumpkin, from start to glorious finish:
Here are the two receipts I used. First, from Mary Randolph’s
The Virginia Housewife (1836; first published 1824):
Get one of a good colour, and seven or
eight inches in diameter; cut a piece off
the top, take out all the seeds, wash and
wipe the cavity, pare the rind off, and fill
the hollow with good forcemeat—put the
top on, and set it in a deep pan, to protect
the sides; bake it in a moderate oven, put
it carefully in the dish without breaking, and
it will look like a handsome mould. Another
way of cooking potato pumpkin is to cut it
in slices, pare off the rind, and make a puree
as directed for turnips.
And from The Art of Cookery, Made Plain and Easy, by Hannah
Glasse (1747); of course, I just made this forcemeat for use
as a filing and not as a garnish or a side dish, so I ignored
the last few sentences:
To make Force-Meat Balls.
Now you are to observe, that Force-Meat
Balls are a great Addition to all Made-Dishes,
made thus: Take Half a Pound of Veal, and
Half a Pound of Sewet, cut fine, and beat
in a Marble Mortar or Wooden Bowl; have
a few Sweet Herbs shred fine, a little Mace
dry’d and beat fine, a small Nutmeg grated,
or Half a large one, a little Lemon-peel cut
very fine, a little Pepper and Salt, and the
Yolks of two Eggs; mix all these well together,
then roll them in little round Balls, and some
in little long Balls; roll them in Flour, and fry
them Brown. If they are for any Thing of White
Sauce, put a little Water on in a Sauce-pan,
and when the Water boils put them in, and
let them boil for a few Minutes, but never
fry them for White Sauce.