Spending time online has real hazards. You can get spammed, hacked, unfriended, and cyber-stalked, all in a single afternoon. And that's just on the regular internet. On the food internet, you might encounter something far scarier: an endless barrage of photos showing foods shoved unceremoniously inside other foods.
I suppose it all started with the turducken, but soon even that became tired. Like, really, is a chicken stuffed inside a duck stuffed inside a turkey all you've got? The internet responded by wrapping the turducken in bacon, creating the turbaconducken. Because that's what we as a society apparently needed. We needed a turbaconducken.
Let's also not forget the Cherpumple -- a three-layer cake stuffed with an apple pie, cherry pie, and pumpkin pie. For those who need a sweet nibble after finishing their turbaconducken.
The problem is, since those illustrious items were invented, the bar has been reset quite high, and now people everywhere are trying to scale it. Apparently no food makes sense anymore unless it's cooked inside the cavity of another food. This is where we now find ourselves.
Happily, major food companies are right on trend. Kraft, for example, offers up a recipe on its website for an Oreo baked inside a cupcake. Why? I have no idea. Can't we just eat a cupcake, and THEN eat an Oreo, and then go about our business? Can't we carboload sequentially?
No, we can't. Fortunately, when we get bored with that -- it will happen! -- we can then enjoy Oreos crammed inside chocolate chip cookies or hidden inside peanut butter blondies. For some reason, Oreos are prime candidates for being thrust inside other edibles.
Honestly, I was going to end this diatribe with a plea for my fellow citizens to get back to eating foods consecutively, or at least side-by-side. But then, just for kicks, I stuffed a roasted squash half with some leftover chili, sprinkled it with cheese, and broiled it until bubbly.
And you know what?
Right. It was awesome.
Suddenly, things look different. I get it now. There's a beautiful efficiency to eating a food and its vessel simultaneously. It just feels good.
I challenge you all to predict the next big stuffed thing.
Obviously, it has to include Oreos.
Recipe for Chili-Stuffed Carnival Squash
First off, people tend to have a favorite chili recipe, so I encourage you to use whatever recipe you like.* And second, I'm not giving specific quantities for the remaining ingredients as they’re completely flexible. Scale up or down, depending on how many you’re serving. Serve with cornbread.
A few Carnival squashes (count on 1/2 to 1 whole squash per person)
Salt and pepper
Your favorite chili, prepared to your liking*
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Line a rimmed baking sheet with foil.
Carefully slice each squash end to end. (Use caution.) Scrape out the seeds and strings. Rub the cut sides and cavities with a bit of vegetable oil. Season the flesh with salt and pepper.
Roast cut-side down until tender and nicely browned, about 40 to 50 minutes, or longer, depending on the size and weight.
Fill the cavity with your favorite chili. Sprinkle with cheese. Return to the baking sheet and broil, face-up, and watching carefully, until the cheese melts and bubbles. Garnish with chopped cilantro, and serve.
*For this recipe, I made the Beefed Up Bean Chili from Almost Meatless, which continues to be one of my favorite cookbooks. It was terrific. If you don't have the book, or a chili recipe in your repertoire, I'd suggest trying Susan Russo's boozy beef chili (for you meat-eaters) or this vegetarian chili from my archive.