Introduction: How to Cook a Jack-O-Lantern
***WHOO HOO!!! A Runner Up Prize in the Pumkin Cahllenge! Thank you, thank you, thank you, to anyone who voted for me, to the judges and the entire Instructables community for this unexpected honour.***
The pumpkins we carve up to make Jack-O-Lanterns for Halloween are every bit as edible, and nutritious, as the smaller, sweeter pie/sugar pumpkins that we buy to cook. So why let them go to waste?
You will want to use a fresh Jack-O-Lantern that was just carved a few hours before. And of course, you will want to make sure that it is still in good condition with no rotten spots or bite marks or anything else that looks suspicious. If you don't feel like cooking it up Halloween night, you can store it over night in the fridge or a cool, dry place where it will be safe until the next day. I have done this many times and the pumpkin was perfectly fine when cooked.
Step 1: Give Jack a Bath
The first thing you will want to do is make sure your pumpkin is nice and clean. Wipe it down really well with a clean cloth and lots of water, or rinse it off in your sink if it will fit. Pay special attention to the bottom, where it is likely to have the most dirt.
Step 2: Kill Your Darling
A quick, sharp shot right between the eyes is the quickest. Say a few words if you like. Once the deed is done, continue to dismember your Jack by slicing him into wedges from the top to the bottom. (I seem to have accidentally deleted the photo of the slicing process, but there really is no need for gratuitous violence.)
Next, trim away the exposed parts where the face was and discard them. They are likely all dried out and may have dirt on them. Then trim the inside, removing any of the guts that are still left and a little of the flesh, which has also been exposed to the elements. Just like a sliced apple that has been left sitting out and turned brown, the outer layer is maybe not that good, but what's underneath is still fine. If you want to be really sure that it's clean, rinse the pieces under running water for a minute.
Step 3: Roast Jack
This isn't the kind of roast where everyone drinks wine (or sparkling grape juice) and says funny things about the subject being roasted. But you could certainly do that if you like, just for fun.
While imbibing your beverage of choice and telling funny stories about Jack, preheat your oven to 375 * F (190 *C). Place the slices of pumpkin on a baking tray and brush them with a little oil. You can season your pumpkin at this point if you like. I don't know what I am going to use mine for yet so I left it plain.
Turn the pumpkin over so that it is skin side up and roast it for about 45-60 minutes. The cooking time will vary depending on your oven and the thickness of your pumpkin, so keep an eye on it. When the skin turns a dark orange and you can easily pierce it with a fork, it's done.
(I added some parchment paper to keep the oil from dripping onto my shiny new jelly roll pan, which was the only pan I had available.)
When the pumpkin is done, let it cool for a bit then simply scoop it out of the skin with a spoon.
Step 4: Ta Da!
And there you have it: A nice big bowl full of roasted pumpkin. Now the only question is, what to do with it?
Pumpkin is very similar in taste and texture to butternut squash and can be served as a vegetable with any meal the same way you would serve squash. Pumpkin soup is another good option, or you could purée it and use it to make pie filling. Jack-O-Lantern pumpkins tend to be tougher and less sweet than the smaller ones sold for making pies, but you can make pies with them. You just have to work a little harder to get the smooth texture and maybe add a bit more sugar and spice.
I am not going to have enough time over the next few days to do anything with mine, and everyone else is too fussy to just eat it because it's good for them, so it will have to be frozen for later use. When I do get around to using it, I will try to add some photos of whatever I make if I can.