This makes for a beautiful first course or as a side to the main dish. I usually serve them on a silver platter with the sauce on the side and pass them around. Everyone can pour a little over their flans.
You can use any type of cooking pumpkin or squash, preferably butternut squash.
1 small cooking pumpkin, about 2 pounds
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
6 leeks, including 1-inch of green, carefully rinsed and cut into 1/2-inch dice
3 whole eggs
3 egg yolks
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
2 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon curry powder
Salt and freshly ground pepper
Boiling water, as needed
1 1/2 cups chicken stock
1 tablespoon chopped fresh Italian parsley, plus extra for garnish
Preheat oven to 375*F (190*C). Lightly oil a baking sheet. Cut the pumpkin in half through the stem end and place, cut side down, on the prepared baking sheet. Bake until easily pierced with a knife, 40 to 50 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool. Leave the oven set at 375*F (190*C). Using a spoon, scoop out the seeds and fibers and discard. Spoon the flesh into a blender. Puree until smooth.
Meanwhile, in a large frying pan over medium heat, melt the butter. Add the leeks and cook, stirring occasionally, until they are very soft and begin to fall apart, 30 to 40 minutes. Remove from the heat.
In a bowl, whisk together the whole eggs and egg yolks, 1 cup of the cream, the sugar, curry powder, salt and pepper to taste. Add three-fourths of the pumpkin puree and all the leeks and stir well.
Butter six 2/3 cup (5 ounce) ramekins or flan molds. Place in a large baking pan and divide the flan mixture evenly among the prepared molds. Pour boiling water into the baking pan to reach halfway up the sides of the molds. Cover the pan loosely with aluminum foil. Bake until the custards are firm in the center and browned on top, 20 to 25 minutes.
While the flans are baking, combine the chicken stock, the remaining pumpkin puree and the remaining 1/2 cup cream in a saucepan. Place over medium-high heat and bring to a boil, stirring occasionally. Boil gently until reduced by half, 5 to 10 minutes. Strain through a fine-mesh sieve into a clean pan. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Remove the flans from oven and let cool for 5 minutes. Run a knife around the edge of each mold and invert onto individual plates. Ladle the sauce around the custards. Garnish with the parsley and serve.
Recipe adapted from Joanne Weir
Photo by Penina