When I grew up in our household pumpkin was one of the standard vege used for the Sunday roast (kumara, parsnips and potato were the others). While it’s true that roasted pumpkin, especially if it caramelizes and goes a little sticky around the edges, tastes gorgeous, it responds to many other cooking methods. The trick is to match the right pumpkin to the recipe.
Choose pumpkins without any blemishes or soft spots. Always wash pumpkins well before cutting them, or you may leave traces of dirt on the chopping board or pass it back on to the cut pumpkin. If it wobbles on the chopping board, put a cloth underneath the chopping board to hold things steady. Use a large sharp knife with a strong blade to cut crown or grey pumpkin, choosing one that has a deep heel (the part closest the handle). Once pumpkin is cut it will deteriorate quickly. Remove seeds, wrap in plastic food wrap and refrigerate.
Crown or grey pumpkin
Crown or grey pumpkin has a hard grey skin with a blueish bloom and a rich dense orange flesh. The taste is sweet and slightly earthy. Uncut, with stalk intact, and kept cool, they can last for many months. This is the best pumpkin to use in purees because the flesh is dense, not watery, and in soups because the colour is vibrant and the flavour rich and sweet. The flesh holds shape providing it is not overcooked, so will perform well in curries, salads and other such dishes. You need a sharp sturdy knife to cut this pumpkin – sink knife into the centre of the pumpkin, cut in as far as you can, remove knife, turn over pumpkin and repeat, meeting the other cut. Then repeat with the other side of the pumpkin and pull pumpkin apart. The skin is edible, but can be chopped off with a sharp knife if preferred.