Hidatsa Stuffed Sugar Pumpkin

Hidatsa Stuffed Sugar Pumpkin

``Many of the Plains tribes originated near the Great Lakes and in the northern woodlands and thus were familiar with wild rice. It became an important trade item, finding its way from Woodland to Prairie tribes. It was then traded for buffalo hides and dried meat from the hunting peoples on the Plains, who were long removed from their ancestral rice marshes.

``The Mandan and Hidatsa villages along the Missouri River in what is now central North Dakota were major trading centers for both indigenous and non-Indian foods. These tribes raised pumpkins and squash and also traded with tribes to the east and the north, thus had a more varied diet than their nomadic neighbors,'' writes author Beverly Cox.

1 4- to 5-pound sugar pumpkin

2 teaspoons salt

2 teaspoons Dijon mustard

1 tablespoon vegetable oil

1/4 cup wild mushrooms (shiitake, chanterelles, etc.), chopped

1 lb. ground beef or lamb

1 medium onion, chopped

1 cup wild rice, cooked

3 eggs, beaten

1/2 teaspoon crushed dried sage

1/2 teaspoon crushed dried marjoram

1/4 teaspoon pepper

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Cut top from pumpkin and remove seeds and strings. Prick cavity with a fork and rub with 1 teaspoon of salt and the mustard. Heat oil in a large skillet. Add meat, onion, and mushrooms, and saute over medium-high heat until meat is lightly browned.

Remove from heat, and stir in cooked wild rice, eggs, remaining salt, sage, marjoram, and pepper. Stuff pumpkin with mixture. Pour an inch of water in the bottom of a shallow baking pan. Put pumpkin in the pan and bake for 1-1/2 hours or until tender. Add more water to pan as necessary to avoid sticking.

To serve, cut pumpkin into wedges, giving each person both pumpkin and stuffing. Serves 6.

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