Carbonada in a Pumpkin

Seven Fires, Grilling the Argentine Way is an enticing collection of recipes from the famous South American chef Francis Mallmann. I have been browsing through it for the better part of a year, wondering what dish to make first.  The recipe for Una Vaca Entera, although fascinating, was just not going to happen. A partial list of the ingredients and equipment for that one:

1 medium cow, about 1400 pounds
1 heavy duty block-and-tackle attached to a steel stanchion set in concrete
2 cords hardwood logs!!

So, what to make? Pork Tenderloin with Orange Confit? Salt-Crust Chicken? As luck would have it, my garden gave me my cue – I had dozens of delicious moschato-type pumpkins that had voluntarily appeared, and Mallmann’s book had a recipe for Carbonada in a Pumpkin, a dish that is typically served in Argentina on July 9, its Independence Day, which happens to fall in the dead of winter in that hemisphere. I am not sure how out-of-season peaches and corn made their way into this stew, but they are phenomenal additions.

This dish did not bowl me over upon first tasting – it was good, but it lacked the wow-factor.  However, on day 2 it was sensational, so I have adapted the recipe to be made over one long day or two, so you can enjoy it at its best.

For the stew:
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
4 ounces pancetta cut into ½ inch dice
2 bay leaves
1 fresh rosemary sprig
1 pound tender stewing beef, cut into ½ inch pieces
4 garlic cloves, peeled and smashed
Freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
1 cup finely chopped onion
½ teaspoon sugar
2 carrots, peeled and cut into ½ inch dice
1 cup dry red wine
1 large red potato, cut into ½ inch dice
1 sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into ½ inch dice
2/3 cup of chopped tomatoes with their juice (fresh or canned)
1 2/3 cup beef stock
1 ear of corn, husked and cut into 6 pieces
2 ripe peaches, pitted and quartered

Cooking the pumpkin:
1 medium pumpkin, approximately 4 pounds
Coarse salt
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
2 bay leaves
3 thyme sprigs
2 garlic cloves, smashed
6 black peppercorns
1/2 cup of beef broth

Garnish (optional):
2 tablespoons chopped green onions or parlsey

1.    In a large pot or dutch oven, heat olive oil over medium-high heat.  Add pancetta, 2 bay leaves, and rosemary and cook until the pancetta becomes translucent and renders it fat.
2.    Raise heat to high and add beef and 4 garlic cloves. Sprinkle with salt and pepper, then sauté until browned on all sides. Add the red wine vinegar and boil until liquid evaporates.
3.    Add onions, sugar and carrots, then pour in the red wine, bring to a boil for about 5 minutes, until the alcohol has cooked off.
4.    Add potato, sweet potato, tomatoes and beef stock and bring to a boil.  Lower heat to a simmer.  Add corn and peaches, cover pan and simmer until meat and vegetables are tender, about 15 minutes.  Remove bay leaves and rosemary and season to taste.
5.    Let cool, then refrigerate for 8 to 24 hours.
6.    3 hours before serving, remove the stew from the refrigerator and prepare the pumpkin: Preheat oven to 375°F. Slice off the top and remove seeds from cavity, creating a large bowl. Sprinkle interior with salt and stand the bottom in a roasting pan.
7.    Place the 2 bay leaves, thyme sprigs, 2 garlic cloves and the peppercorns in the pumpkin, then pour in the ½ cup beef broth. Cover with pumpkin top and place in oven.
8.    Roast for approximately one hour, until pumpkin is tender (test with skewer or fork through the side). Remove from oven and allow to cool a bit.
9.    Meanwhile, slowly heat the stew until bubbling.
10.    Empty out the pumpkin and set in upright in a deep platter (juices may leak, so you need a dish with sides). Spoon the stew into the pumpkin, sprinkle with garnish if desired, then place top on pumpkin and bring to the table.  Spoon into soup bowls, scooping a bit of the pumpkin flesh into each serving.

A nice rustic bread and an Argentinian wine, such as LaMadrid Bonarda or Norton Malbec Reserva, are the perfect accompaniments.

Music in the kitchen – Os Mutantes

Find this recipe, and hundreds more, at

One response to “Carbonada in a Pumpkin

  1. Pingback: Who Will Win The World Cup of Flavor? | Chef Vibes

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