In my previous post I shared a collection of 19th-century pumpkin recipes from a variety of American and Canadian sources. A few of them caught my eye, but I ended up starting with something I’ve never thought to make before: Fried Pumpkin.
It’s pretty straightforward and there isn’t much historical background so this recipe post will be short and sweet!
Halloween wasn’t really widely celebrated in the United States in 1882. Irish and Scottish immigrants brought their traditions to America, but the holiday wasn’t fully embraced until the turn of the 20th century. Harvest festivals, however, were common and had been for some time (Ichabod Crane attends one in The Legend of Sleepy Hollow).
Pumpkin, being a native winter squash variety, would certainly be on the menu during American and Canadian harvest seasons and Thanksgiving, typically in the form of a pumpkin pie. Smaller varieties of pumpkins were more tender and better suited for cooking, like the sugar pie pumpkin. Sugar pie pumpkins would have been a historically-accurate choice for this recipe, as they were listed in seed catalogs as early as 1860.
From Meals for the Million, the People’s Cookbook by Juliet Corson.
Fried Pumpkin – Cut tender pumpkin in two-inch pieces, peel them, lay them for an hour in an earthen dish sprinkled with salt; dust them with pepper, roll them in flour, and fry them in plenty of smoking hot fat. Use hot as a vegetable; squash may be similarly cooked.
- 1 small pie pumpkin
- salt and pepper to taste
- 2/3 cup flour
- 1/4 cup (4 tbsp) butter
Step ONE: Prep the Pumpkin
“Cut tender pumpkin in two-inch pieces, peel them“
It might not be your favorite activity, but it really doesn’t take that long to peel and cut a pie pumpkin. I recommend cutting it in half, removing the seeds/pith and using a sharp peeler rather than a knife to remove the orange skin. I prepare butternut squash the same way.
Slice the peeled pumpkin into squares or rectangles, roughly about 2 inches in size. No need to measure, but try to keep the pieces about the same smallish size so they cook evenly.
Step TWO: Salting
“…lay them for an hour in an earthen dish sprinkled with salt;“
Lay the pumpkin pieces in a single layer in a pie or casserole dish. One pumpkin yields a decent amount of pieces, so depending on how many people will be eating it, you might want to use only half- 2/3 of the pumpkin.
Sprinkle them generously with kosher salt (I used coarse grain) and let them sit for up to an hour. This is called “disgorging,” which draws out excess liquid and layers of flavor. Some sources say this process also helps reduce bitterness and prevents the vegetables from getting too soggy when cooking.
Step THREE: Fry and Serve
“…dust them with pepper, roll them in flour, and fry them in plenty of smoking hot fat. Use hot as a vegetable;“
Sprinkle the pumpkin with pepper and roll them in flour. You can put flour on a plate and roll each pumpkin piece individually or I suppose you could also combine them in a bowl and toss until everything is evenly coated.
Melt butter in a large frying pan over medium heat. Add the pumpkin and fry, turning often, until they are golden brown.
I really liked this recipe! It’s a nice little side dish and a fun way to use pumpkin for something other than decorating. Fried zucchini and acorn squash is a favorite around my house, but this does taste noticeably different. If you like the taste of pumpkin you’ll probably really enjoy it.
An entire pumpkin yields way too much for my tiny three-person family, and they don’t really save all that well. I would recommend using half to two-thirds of the pumpkin unless you’re cooking for more than four people.
1 sugar pie pumpkin
salt and pepper to taste
1/2 – 2/3 cup flour
1/4 cup butter (4 T.)
Peel pumpkin and remove seeds and pith. Slice pumpkin into 2″ pieces and lay in a single layer in a dish. Sprinkle salt over the pumpkin and let it rest for up to an hour. Sprinkle with pepper to taste. Roll pumpkin pieces in flour or toss to coat. Melt butter in a pan and fry over medium heat, turning often until pumpkin is golden brown.
If using half of the pumpkin, you will only need around 1/2 cup of flour.