Recipe: Polenta's pumpkin cousin

THERE has been an extraordinarily large and diverse response to our request for recipes using pumpkins: soups from France, Belgium, Spain, the West Indies, the Antipodes and the Americas; tortelloni, fritters and risottos from Italy; pickles from Britain; stew from China; pies and tarts from all over the shop.

This week I have chosen a simple south-western French country dish called millias, submitted by John and Astrid Furnival of Woodchester, Gloucester, and a sweeter variation of it, called millassou, submitted by Lesley Hooper of south-east London. They will each receive two bottles of 1991 Avignonesi Bianco, from Reid Wines near Bristol.

The recipe is a fruity cousin of baked polenta. The Furnivals encountered millias as an interlude between savoury courses in a long Christmas dinner given by a Mrs Faral in the Lot region of France. It would be wonderful with foie gras and a sweet white wine, or as a starchy foil to roast loin of pork with prunes and madeira.


Serves 8

Ingredients 2lb/900g pumpkin, cored, cubed and peeled (weigh after cleaning)

4 1/2 oz/125g cornmeal

2 tbs light muscovado sugar

Handful of raisins

1/4 tsp salt

1/2 pint/250ml milk

2oz armagnac, cognac or rum

Preparation Steam the pumpkin, or simmer in 3-4 tbs of water over a diffused heat until tender, about 15-20 minutes. Preheat oven to 220C/425F/gas 7 and butter a roasting tin. Mash pumpkin, and add milk and rum. Stir. Gradually blend in dry ingredients and the raisins until the mixture is between thick and thin. Pour into dish and bake, reducing heat to 200C/400F/gas 6 for 40 minutes to 1 hour. It will be loose if served straight from the oven. To cut in wedges, allow to cool, then heat slices quickly under the grill.

Lesley Hooper calls millassou a 'strange dessert'. She found it in Recettes de Quercy by Claudine Duluat and Jeanine Pouget. 'It has a light texture, but strong flavour,' she writes. Her procedure is similar to the millias, save that it lacks raisins, and requires 10fl oz/ 300ml of milk. It also takes two new ingredients: 5 lightly beaten eggs and 2oz/50g softened butter, which should be added after mashing the pumpkin. Halve the quantities to feed four.

Ms Hopper forgoes the final stage called for in Recettes de Quercy: slicing the baked article, coating the slices in sugar and frying them in butter.

Next week, more pumpkins. Recipes are welcome for the new category: warming winter stews. Send to Emily Green, Recipe, The Independent, 40 City Road, London EC1Y 2DB. Those whose recipes we publish will receive a bottle of 1991 Charles Melton Nine Popes, a big-bodied red from the Barossa Valley, south Australia.

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