Okay, so we’re not using a whole pig, but we are using a whole pumpkin, which not only produced some very succulent, flavorful pork, but also made for an absolutely stunning presentation. This looked so good, that many people might think it was faked, which really is the ultimate compliment.
While this would work in any pumpkin, try to find ones sold as “sugar,” or “pie” pumpkins,” since they have a thicker, sweeter flesh, compared to the ornamental ones sold for jack-o’-lantering. I believe the variety I used was called “cannonball,” but simply look for round, heavy-feeling varieties about the size of a volleyball, displayed in the produce department, and not outside, or in front of the store.
As I said in the video, you can season this anyway you want, but regardless of what exactly goes in your gourd, make sure you roast it until the meat is tender. How long will depend on the size of course, so be sure to test the meat as it cooks. The only thing I’d do differently next time, would be to pour in a little more cider after a few hours in the oven, since a lot of it evaporated as it roasted, and I wanted more “sauce” when I was done.
After you remove the meat for service, ladle out all the braising liquid, and let it sit for a few minutes, so you can skim off most of the fat. Thanks to the little bit of flour on the pork, it should have a nice thickness, but you can always adjust that with some more roux. Or, simply make a sauce separately, and then just spike it with your drippings.
Also, if you wanted to add another step, you could use a blender to make a smoother sauce, but I’ll leave that up to you. Either way, if you’re looking for a fun, and very seasonably appropriate way to cook some pork shoulder, I couldn’t think of a better, or more beautiful way, which is why I really hope you give this a try soon. Enjoy!
Ingredients for one Pig in a Pumpkin:
1 volleyball-sized cooking pumpkin
3 1/2 to 4 pounds of boneless pork shoulder
1 rounded tablespoon kosher salt (the pumpkin will absorb some of this)
2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1 teaspoon crushed fennel seeds
1 tablespoon freshly chopped rosemary
1/3 cup thinly sliced shallots
– garlic and sage would have also been great here
2 tablespoons flour to coat pork
1 tablespoon olive oil for browning meat
at least 2 cups hard cider, or more if you can fit it in before or during cooking