Pumpkin is one of those vegetables (yes, I know that technically it’s a fruit) that I have a love-hate relationship with.

My mother used to mash it with potato and I hated it so much I’d gag on it. ‘Oh Joanne,’ she’d say. ‘There’s no need for the dramatics.’ She still does it that way and I still gag on it. She also used to boil it. Yep, gag material as well. It’s really only at Christmas that she’d roast it – and apologise if it had little burnt bits around the edge. Coincidentally, that’s one way I do enjoy eating it: roasted with burnt caramelised bits.

I also dislike pumpkin soup – unless it’s my husbands’ version. He adds ginger and garlic and spices it up – plus he makes sure that it’s silky smooth. I can’t abide the lumps – it reminds me of boiled or mashed pumpkin and I’ll gag.

If that’s the hate part, what about the love? If it’s on the menu, I’ll choose a pumpkin and feta risotto any day. I also make a fabulous pumpkin macaroni cheese – if I do say so myself.

So I was a little concerned when Clancy announced that he was doing a whole pumpkin in the camp oven. Would it fall into the love category, or would I be gagging?

The verdict? It was the dish of the weekend. It was also, without a doubt, the most impressively theatrical dish.

What you need…

  • 1 large pumpkin – we used a jap pumpkin
  • cooked rice – about a cup or so
  • 3-4 cooked bacon rashers, chopped. You could also use some smoky chorizo for a little more paprika goodness. Fry it up and chop it up.
  • 6 spring onions, chopped – or 1 whole normal onion – white or purple…whatever you have.
  • 2-3 tomatoes chopped
  • a handful of chopped mixed herbs – whatever you have
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • ¼ cup chicken stock

Don’t be too precious with ingredients or quantities. This is, as all great camp recipes should be, a great use of leftovers or pantry staples. Some chilli for a kick is always a good idea…

What you do with it…

  • Place pumpkin in a foil-lined camp oven. Depending on your coals, the bottom can get really hot – so double foil it. Bake it over moderate coals (with some on the lid too) until it’s tender. This will take about an hour. The coals on the lid will help cook the pumpkin all the way through.

  • While it’s cooking, mix all of your stuffing ingredients together. This really is multi-tasking at its best.
  • Remove the pumpkin carefully from the oven and cut the top off it.
  • Scoop the seeds out from the centre, taking care not to remove any of the sweet flesh.
  • Spoon the rice mix into the pumpkin shell and return the pumpkin to the camp oven.

  • Pour the chicken stock over and replace the pumpkin lid, and then the lid of the camp oven.
  • Put it back on the coals (with some more on the lid) and cook for another 30-40 minutes until it’s beautifully tender.
  • Serve on its own (for lunch) or as a side dish…

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