It’s almost Thanksgiving and you don’t need an intro from me. Let’s get right to the main course (which happens to be side dishes)!
BLT Showdown — 1) Vince 2) Zach 3) Steve
Mac & Cheese Showdown — 1) Vince 2) (tie) Zach, Steve
Taco Showdown — 1) Steve 2) Zach 3) Vince
Winter Stew Showdown — 1) Zach 2) Steve 3) Vince
Date Night Showdown — 1) Zach 2) Vince 3) Steve
Pasta Showdown — 1) Steve 2) Zach 3) Vince
Hot Beef Showdown — 1) Zach 2) Vince 3) Steve
Shellfish Showdown — 1) Vince 2) Zach 3) Steve
BBQ Showdown — 1) Steve 2) Zach 3) Vince
Pumpkin Spice Showdown — 1) (tie) Vince, Zach 2) Steve
We’re giving three points to the winner and one to second place for each round. As it stands, the score is:
ZACH’S PUMPKIN FONDUE
Side dishes are tough around Thanksgiving. It’s always so regionally based that you have to wonder — is there really a wrong answer to the “great side dish at Thanksgiving” debate? Basically, no. Anything will do as long as it’s at least tangentially based on autumn and local harvests. Besides, most of what we consider “classic” Thanksgiving side dishes are just foods Ogilvy and Bernays crammed down our throats to sell more shit during the last century. So, there really is no wrong answer here.
(Watch your toes, I’m about to drop a mic) You know what’s really not a wrong answer? A vat of melted cheese, that’s what. I give you a baked pumpkin filled with baked-in-the-pumpkin three cheese fondue.
This recipe is kinda perfect for Thanksgiving. One, you’ll need something for your oven to do while the turkey rests for an hour or two. Two, it’s a really high-quality side with a very low impact preparation.
I used a Muscat Pumpkin here because, yes, I live in Europe which is somehow bafflingly a negative (I secretly tell myself that you’re all just painfully jealous). Anyway, you want to choose one about the size of a bowling ball for this recipe. Muscat’s have a rich, deeply orange, and savory flesh that’s only slightly sweet. It’s also thicker on the inside giving you plenty of heft.
Open that sucker up, scoop out all of the seeds and sinew, and pop it in the oven on a high-ish temperature (400F) for about 30 minutes or until the inner flesh is fork tender. I do sprinkle some sea salt on the inside of the pumpkin. It helps bring out the flavors. I use my cast iron skillet here. That’s the only cooking platform you really need. A baking sheet is fine too. Whatever works for you.
You can also totally bake the pumpkin ahead of time to free up your oven on Thanksgiving. It’ll get reheated when you bake in the cheese anyway. In that case, all you’ll do to finish this on Thanksgiving is 30 minutes of oven time.