Spicy Beef Stew in a Pumpkin Shell

Pumpkin pieces are at home in this savory mix of tender beef, onions, tomato, and spices, which slowly cook undisturbed until serving time.

From the "Heirloom Gardener"

Total Hands-On Time: 4 hr

Preparation Time: 1 hr

Cook Time: 3 hr

Yield: 6 servings

If you’d like to cut down on prep time, use 3 pounds frozen pearl onions in place of the white onions. For a festive touch, serve this stew in a pumpkin. 


  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 pounds stewing beef
  • 1 teaspoonsalt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 pounds small white onions
  • 1/2 cup red wine
  • 1/4 cup tomato paste
  • 2 tablespoon red wine vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 small cinnamon stick
  • 6 whole cloves
  • 1 tablespoon currants (optional)
  • 1/4 teaspoonground cumin
  • 1 pound fresh pumpkin, peeled, seeds and fibers removed, and cut into 1/2-inch cubes (about 2 cups)
  • 1 edible pumpkin (4 to 5 pounds), for serving


  1. Combine the butter and oil in a large Dutch oven over medium heat.
  2. Add the meat and the salt, add pepper to taste, and then stir with the butter and oil just to coat, not too brown.
  3. Cut off the root and stem ends of the onions. Make a small “X” in the root end to keep the onions from falling apart.
  4. Remove the skins and distribute the onions over the meat. (A quick way to loosen skins is to parboil the onions for 1 minute in a large saucepan of boiling water.)
  5. Mix the wine, tomato paste, vinegar, sugar, and garlic together and pour the mixture over the meat and onions. Scatter the bay leaf, cinnamon, cloves, currants (if using), and cumin over the top.
  6. Bring the stew to a boil, reduce the heat, and simmer, covered, for 2 hours. Do not stir.
  7. Gently press the cubed pumpkin into the stew.
  8. Cover and continue cooking for 1 hour more, or until the meat is very tender.
  9. Meanwhile, heat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
  10. Cut the top off the intact pumpkin and scrape out the seeds and stringy insides. Rinse thoroughly and pat dry.
  11. Rub the outside with oil, place on a jelly-roll pan or cookie sheet, and bake for 30 to 45 minutes, until it's easy to pierce with a fork but not collapsing.
  12. Set the hot pumpkin on a serving plate.
  13. Spoon the hot stew into the hot pumpkin, and scrape a bit of pumpkin with each serving of stew.

Find more seasonal pumpkin recipes here: Pumpkin Recipes and Growing Tips.

This recipe is excerpted from The Pumpkin Cookbook and used with permission from Storey Publishing.