Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Weekly Recipe #142: Pumpkin Pie

by Gwenda Hill, Open Arms Registered Dietitian

Ever since my husband and I started dating, I’ve celebrated Thanksgiving with his family. They prepare an amazing spread- turkey, corn bread stuffing, Italian sausage stuffing (my husband’s 100% Italian great-grandma’s recipe), bread stuffing, cranberries, sweet potatoes, mashed potatoes, Brussels sprouts, rolls, condiments and pecan pie. Amazing, right? Almost. The first time I experienced their Thanksgiving, I left with only one unfulfilled food desire—pumpkin pie!

Pumpkin pie was always a staple of my family’s Thanksgiving dinner. Determined not to miss out on the delightful flavor the following year, I volunteered to bring it. Every year since, I have only needed to make this one contribution. This year, I am making it from scratch—with a pie pumpkin picked from the field of a local farm.

I definitely encourage you to try making the pumpkin pie this way. You will need a food processor or immersion blender to do this successfully. Of course, it’s less daunting if you don’t also have to prepare the rest of the Thanksgiving feast! Most of the guidance for the creation of this pie comes from my go-to cookbook, “The Joy of Cooking.”

Wishing you and yours a wonderful Thanksgiving celebration!

Pumpkin Pie

(Yields 1-9 in. uncovered pie)

Photo by Noel Clark
For the crust

  • 1 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp. white sugar
  • 1/2 cup cold unsalted butter (1 stick)
  • 3-5 tbsp. cold water

  1. Combine the flour and sugar together.
  2. Cut the cold butter into small pieces and add to the flour mixture.
  3. Use a pastry blender or fork to cut the butter into the flour mixture. Do this until the mixture has the consistency of coarse crumbs. The mixture should be dry and powdery.
  4. Drizzle 3 tbsp. of water over the mixture and lightly mix until evenly moistened. If the balls of dough do not stick together, add 1 tbsp. of water at a time until they do.
  5. Once the dough just barely sticks together, wrap tightly in plastic. Put in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes. You can store the dough wrapped in the fridge for up to 2 days. It is easier to roll when it is cold.
  6. When you are ready to bake the pie, roll out the dough. To make rolling easier, put it between two sheets of parchment paper or waxed paper. Roll out to desired size.
  7. Peel off the paper and put the dough in a pie pan. Trim off the excess dough.

For the Pumpkin Puree

(Yield: A kids soccer ball sized pumpkin will yield about 5 cups of pumpkin puree)

  • 1 pie pumpkin (not to be confused with the bigger Jack-o-Lantern variety)
  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Wash the outside of the pumpkin well. This keeps any germs that are on the outside skin from spreading to the protected fleshy part of the pumpkin.
  3. Cut the pumpkin into quarters.
  4. Scrape out the seeds and stringy pumpkin insides (save the seeds to roast them).
  5. Place the pumpkin flesh-side down in a pan. A pan with a bit of an edge will contain the juices that may leak while roasting.
  6. Bake for about 40 minutes. Check halfway through cooking. Turn over to make sure it cooks evenly.
  7. Remove from oven and allow to cool for about 15 minutes.
  8. Once the pieces are cool enough to handle, peel the skin off of the flesh and discard. Put all of the flesh into a bowl.
  9. Use an emersion blender to puree the pumpkin to an applesauce consistency.
  10. Remove 2 cups of puree to use in the pie. You can portion out and freeze the rest to use in another pie or a different recipe (like soup or bread) at another time.

For the filling

  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 cups pumpkin puree (see above recipe)
  • 1 1/2 cups evaporated milk
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1/2  tsp. ground ginger
  • 1/4 tsp. allspice
  • 1/4 tsp. crushed cloves
  • 1/2 tsp. salt

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  2. Whisk the eggs in a bowl.
  3. Whisk in remaining ingredients until well blended.
  4. Pour the pumpkin mixture into the unbaked pie crust.
  5. Bake for 35-45 minutes. It should resemble a gelatin consistency when done. (My mom taught me to test for doneness by sticking a knife in the center of the pie - if it comes out clean it’s done. This leaves a knife mark in the center of the pie, which might be undesirable for some. But honestly, I don’t know pumpkin pie any other way, so the slit in the top is just a part of the presentation of my pie.)
  6. Serve warm, room temp, or cold. Top with whipped cream or ice cream with a dash of cinnamon to dress it up.

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