What would Halloween be without a carved pumpkin?
Don't know the tricks of the trade? Sharpen your jack-o'-lantern-making skills with master pumpkin carving tips from Luby's executive corporate chef Dan Phalen. Watch the video above in which the crafty toque demonstrates professional techniques on how to sculpt the perfect themed fruit — whether that's a celeb look-alike squash or a traditional bone-chilling lantern.
Below are four tips to help you begin on this seasonal artistic adventure.
1. Pick the perfect pumpkin
Have in mind the silhouette you'd like to carve and pick a shape-worthy pumpkin that fits the bill. If you're carving off the cuff, any simple, round pumpkin with a nice, smooth surface will do.
2. Pull out the knives
Safety first, of course, advises Phalen. Your little pumpkins — meaning kids — should stick with a store-bought carving kit for safety. But adults, however, may prefer to use a sharp kitchen knife for easier maneuvering.
Hack away using a tourney knife, which is typically used to cut potatoes, and a boning/fillet knife with a sharp point and narrow blade. Place the hand that holds the pumpkin away from the knives' sharp edges so that no blood decorations spill from your creative fingers.
3. Don't toss the inner goods
Pumpkin seeds are slimy and gooey, but also make for a tasty, toasted treat. Simply boil the seeds for 10 to 15 minutes and then dry them in the oven on low heat. The versatile seeds can be used in a number of ways, including on salads and in sweet brittle.
If freehanding a design doesn't appeal to you, stencils are an easy way to make a jack-o'-lantern masterpiece. Draw the stencil on your pumpkin and use it as your guide. Be careful outlining your stencil in permanent marker like a Sharpie, though, as it will leave black lines on the pumpkin that can be hard to conceal.
Happy Halloween from CultureMap and Luby's!