Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Pumpkin, Sage, Sausage and Leek Stuffed Flank Steak

Pumpkins that look like giant orange full moons in a chilly nighttime sky, seemingly peeking through and over the trees while leaves rustle softly in the trees. Tiny grapefruit sized pumpkins piled high in local farm markets just waiting to become pie...or maybe fearing becoming the contents of said pie...hmmmmm. Autumn's orange-lobed edible gourd just screams fall, don't you think? (Or is that the sound of horror the pumpkin makes when it sees the plunging knife coming it's way to eviscerate it of it's slimy, seedy guts?)

Big pumpkins, small pumpkins and every type of orange, yellow, white, bumpy or smooth variety you might come across means autumn, cool weather and falling leaves are HERE! And all the delicious pumpkin dishes along with them. YUM!

Sunday's Pumpkin, Sage, Sausage and Leek Stuffed Flank Steak was a big hit. Normally, I use apples in my stuffing to give the mixture a little sweetness against the savory herbs and the richness of the sausage - besides that, my mom always used apples in her stuffing so that's good enough for me! But, let's think about that. What if I swapped out apples for roasted pumpkin? So I did. Sorry mom.

A little planning ahead was involved. Peeling, seeding and roasting a small pie pumpkin was done earlier in the day. No big deal and it gave me something to do while watching CBS Sunday Morning. Later, when it was time to stuff the flank steak, the pumpkin was cool and ready to go. other little step to do ahead of time. If you don't have a butcher (or a friend in the back of the meat department at Giant Eagle) to cut a pocket into your flank steak for the stuffing, you're going to have to break out a nice sharp knife and do it yourself. But really, if I can do it...YOU can do it! No biggie.

Once the roasted pumpkin is cooled and the pocket cut into the flank steak, all that's needed are a few veggies -  a nice leek from the CSA basket this week, a little celery and onion, a few sage leaves picked from my pond-side herb garden, a little browned crumbled sausage and a couple of slices of a good firm white bread. (Of course there was no wheat bread in our house - Whole Foods makes a mighty fine firm white bread - similar to Pepperidge Farm and perfect for stuffing.)

The resultant big, beefy, rich roasted stuffed flank steak was superb! I'd bet the pumpkin-y stuffing would be equally wonderful in pork chops, chicken or turkey, too. You know, I'm thinking even my mom would have liked this new twist on her classic apple stuffing!

 Pumpkin, Sage, Sausage and Leek 
Stuffed Flank Steak
  • 1 small pie pumpkin, peeled, seeded, diced and roasted - about 1 cup after roasting (see below)

  • 1 large flank steak, pick one that is thick so your butcher or YOU can cut a pocket into it...a thin one is harder to cut without breaking through

  • 1/4 pound sage sausage, crumbled and browned
  • 10 small sage , fresh leaves, chopped

  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1/2 cup leeks (1 small), finely chopped
  • 1 stalk celery, WITH leaves - lots of them, finely chopped
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon poultry seasoning
  • 2 slices white bread, a good firm white bread like Pepperidge Farm  (to make this gluten-free, use a good firm white gluten-free bread like Whole Foods GF white bread)

To roast pumpkin: Peel the pumpkin with a vegetable peeler, cut in half and scoop out the seeds and guts. Cut the pumpkin flesh into small dice. Spray a rimmed baking sheet with olive oil, spread out the cubed pumpkin, sprinkle with salt and pepper, spray well with olive oil. Bake at 400 degrees for about half an hour. Remove from oven and cover with foil - return to oven for another 10-15 minutes. Remove and cool.

Flank steak: If you can, buy a flank steak with the pocket already cut. If you can't find one WITH the pocket, ask the butcher to cut one for a last resort, do it yourself. Starting at a narrow end, using a VERY sharp knife, slowly and CAREFULLY cut little by little down through the center of the steak being careful not to let the knife pierce through to the outside. Once you have a hollow steak, set it aside to make the stuffing.

Stuffing: In a skillet, crumble and brown the sausage well. When it's browned, add the fresh chopped sage and saute briefly. Remove and set aside. In the same skillet, melt the butter and saute the leeks, celery and onion until softened. Don't brown them, just soften them. Add poultry seasoning. Let cool and add the roasted pumpkin. Crumble the bread and mix everything well.

Assembly: Lightly pack the stuffing into the pocket of the flank steak. If necessary, secure the opening with toothpicks to keep the stuffing inside. Salt and pepper the top of the steak and put into a roasting pan sprayed with olive oil.

Roast the stuffed flank steak in a 375 degree oven for 45 minutes to an hour until well-browned and the stuffing is hot inside. Let rest and slice to serve.

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