A few weeks ago, we hosted a Halloween-themed party at our place. I was determined to do something inventive with a pumpkin and when I spotted this recipe in Food Network magazine, I had to give it a try. It looked so cheesy and delicious, I knew that if I could pull it off, it’d be a party hit. To make this dip, you have to first make the queso in a pan on the stove, then pour it into a scooped out pumpkin to bake for about an hour. Advance planning is needed. The hardest thing, I realized, was finding the right sized pumpkins. After I made my dip, I poured it into a pumpkin that was much too large. Luckily, I had two smaller ones handy and was able to make a quick switcheroo. The nice thing about having two small pumpkins is that I served one at a time, and reheating number two mid-way through the party was a breeze. It was great to have some cheesy hotness halfway through the night. I also made my recipe slightly less meaty, by using a vegan-based chorizo substitute that we get at Whole Foods. To make it truly vegetarian, replace the chicken broth with vegetable stock.
Here’s my take on Pumpkin Queso Fundido
What you need:
2 1-to-2-pound sugar pumpkins
8 ounces chorizo (or veggie) sausage
1 jalapeno pepper (remove seeds for less heat), chopped
1 4-ounce can chopped green chiles
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups low-sodium chicken or veggie broth
2 cups shredded mozzarella or Oaxaca cheese
1 cup shredded monterey jack cheese
Tortilla chips, for serving
How to make:
1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Slice off the tops 1 1/2 of the pumpkins and discard. Scoop out the seeds and stringy pulp.
2. Heat the chorizo or veggie version in a medium pot over medium-high heat for about 5 minutes until browning begins. Add the jalapeno, green chiles, cumin and cayenne and cook, stirring, until the jalapeno softens, about 2 minutes. Stir in the flour and cook, stirring, until the flour is slightly toasted, about 2 minutes. Add the chicken or veggie broth and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium and stir in the cheeses. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the cheese melts and the mixture is creamy, about 3 more minutes.
Place the pumpkin in a small baking dish and fill the pumpkin with the cheese mixture. Add 1 inch of boiling water to the baking dish. Cover loosely with foil and bake until the pumpkin is tender, about 1 hour, 20 minutes. Remove the foil and continue baking until the cheese is golden and bubbly, 20 to 25 more minutes. Let cool 5 to 10 minutes. Serve warm with tortilla chips and watch it disappear.
Note: The best part is when you get near the end, and scoop up the baked pumpkin flesh along with the dip. Extra yum!