Pumpkin and Pancetta Stuffing
5 cups 1/2-inch white bread cubes, crust included
1 small pumpkin (about 1 1/2 pounds)
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/4 pound pancetta, chopped
4 large shallots, sliced
1/4 cup celery, diced
3 tablespoons minced garlic
1/2 cup mixed fresh herbs (such as parsley, thyme, and rosemary)
1/4 cup dried figs, halved
1/4 cup shelled and lightly toasted pumpkin seeds
3 tablespoons butter
salt and pepper to taste
1/4 cup chicken stock
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spread the bread cubes on an oiled sheet pan and bake until light brown, about 20 minutes.
2. Split the pumpkin in half and bake at 350 degrees for about 30 minutes, or until tender but not mushy. Cut pumpkin Flesh away from rind, and cut Flesh into 1-inch cubes. Measure out 2 cups in a large bowl and set aside. Discard rind.
3. In a large sauté pan, heat olive oil over moderate heat. Add the pancetta and cook for 5 minutes, until lightly crisp. Add shallots and celery, and cook until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add garlic, and cook another 3 minutes. Set mixture aside.
4. Mix together pumpkin cubes, baked bread cubes, herbs, dried Figs, pumpkin seeds, and butter and season with salt and pepper. Add the pancetta mixture and chicken stock, and mix well.
5. Either stuff a 14- to 16-pound turkey with the mixture and roast immediately, or put the mixture in a large, buttered roasting pan and cover with foil. Bake, covered, at 375 degrees for 15 minutes. Uncover and bake for 15 more minutes. Serve with roast turkey.
Makes enough stuffing for a 14 -- to 16-pound turkey