Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Pumpkin-Ground Beef Calzones

Or maybe they are Empanadas?  Nope, not fried, so Calzones.
  (If you are just looking for this recipe... go here ---> Pumpkin-Ground Beef Calzones)
Oh dear... they're not pretty,
but they were so good we ate them all
before we could figure out a pretty picture

The challenge at my house has always been a ban on fruit with meat.  So the usually spicy sweet route for pumpkin as an accompaniment to meat was OUT.  Banned.  Disapproved of.

But I love pumpkin, and the creaminess it brings is reminiscent of the best of gravy, so I wasn't willing to give up on pumpkin.  I just needed to make it Not Sweet, also known as Savory.

Fortunately for all the palates concerned, Smoky as a flavor option has come a long way since the days of "Liquid Smoke" and "Gravy Browning."  For the purposes of this recipe, smoked paprika and chipotle peppers (which are ripened, smoked jalepeños) do the trick.

And the beet greens with masses of sautéed garlic was the best bonus.

Step 1 - roast the pumpkin.  A pool of water at the bottom of the pan, as you set it at 375˚F for 30 - 40 min will make it soften right up.  Be sure to use a cute little pie pumpkin.  They have the best taste.  "Big Carvin' Pumpkins" are watery and not for food.

Pull it out when the skin and the edges are starting to brown, and the flesh is fork tender.

Step 2.  Don't toss the pumpkin guts.

Step 3.  Why - because you can make roasted pumpkin seeds!  YAYAYAYAYYAYAY!!!!
(At the same time you are baking the pumpkin)

Normal Person 1: "But I hate getting all those orange ecchchy stings all over my fingers!"

Kitchen Geek: "Me too, but I figured out this cool way to get rid of that problem."

NP1: "You spent time on this?"

KG: "Well, I just like fresh roasted pumpkin seeds that much."

NP2: " What are you two talking about?"

KG: "Well, all you need to do, is put the pumpkin guts..."

NP1: "Why do you keep saying pumpkin guts?"

KG:  "Remember Sally from the Charlie Brown Great Pumpkin Special?"

NP2: "Oh right, when she freaks out from opening up the top of her pumpkin and scooping out the..."

KG:  "Right, so anyway, put the pumpkin guts into a big bowl of water.  If you squeeze the pointy end of the seeds they pop away from the orange stringy things and just float on the water.  Then you can scoop them out."   

Step 4:  Toss them on a cookie sheet/ half sheet pan with a silpat, 
(NP1: "You ARE a Kitchen Geek.")
with a little salt, and just enough oil to coat them lightly.  Bake at 375˚F until lightly browned and crunchy (25 - 40 min... depending).  And as far as I'm concerned that's the point of Halloween.
(NP2: "Total Geek.")

KG:  "HEY! Who ate all but a handful of the roasted pumpkin seeds?  Huh!?" 

Anyway, Step 5:

Heat a saute pan, cook down a sliced onion (purple if you got 'em) and some sage in a little bacon fat (or oil) over med-low heat, until the onions are soft.  Brown a pound of ground beef, and 
Add Chili powder (Start w/ 2 tsp)
Smoked Paprika (Start w/ 1 tsp)
Garlic Powder (Start w/ 1 tsp)
Salt & Pepper (start w/ 1/4 tsp)
until it tastes almost right. 

Then stir in the pumpkin pulp you scooped off the skin after it cooled enough to handle.

Mash it up and stir it into the seasoned ground beef and purple onions.  Taste and adjust the seasonings until it makes you want to eat it all up right there.

Step 6:  Restrain Yourself.

Get that bag of pizza dough from Trader Joe's you bought earlier today.

NP1: "Wait, so you bought a pie pumpkin, a pound of ground beef and pizza dough at Trader Joe's today?"

KG: "Well, I didn't have much a choice did I?"

NP2: "Next you are going to tell us you were stopped in your tracks by these items."

KG: "Well, it was all the pumpkins that did it.  I see the other 2 things all the time."

NP1 & NP2:  "You are just not normal."

KG: "Do you want dinner?"

OK, anyway.  Get a clean expanse of counter very floury.  Divide up the dough into 6 pieces.  Make them into small circles.  Put A few tablespoons of the pumpkin-beef filling into the center.  Fold the circle onto itself, seal the edge by pressing down emphatically.  Fork tines help.  Repeat with other dough circles.

Stab a few times to let air escape.  Place on a cookie sheet (or appropriate alternative) in the 375˚F oven for about 30 min. That is until dough is in a GBD state (Golden Brown & Delicious).

While the Calzones are cooking...

Step 7:  Vegetables
Wash & tear some green stuff.  I had beet greens.  Chard, spinach & tender kale are all good here too

Saute with large amounts of well chopped or thinly sliced garlic.  Add broth or water and let simmer until all is tender and mild.  Don't forget the salt.

And then make a dipping sauce.  Basically take a nice plain Marinara or similar, and stir in some chopped chipotles in adobo... or chipotle salsa.

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