Without pumpkin pie, Thanksgiving would have failed to achieve its iconic status. Turkey alone simply lacks the ability to carry the day. Lovely aromas, nice presentation, irresistible crispy skin, but then what’s there to look forward to? Another afternoon and evening of football? I think not! Here is where Pumpkin Pie saves the day. Once a perfectly prepared Pumpkin Pie arrives at the table, no one gives a fat damn who’s going where. Just bring on the whipped cream and let’s all get down and happy! So it is with particular joy that I present to you my (actually my mother’s) version of the perfect finish to your Thanksgiving table.
My mother used fresh butternut squash for her pumpkin pies, and it has always seemed eminently sensible to me. Pumpkin and squash are essentially the same, flavor-wise; if I served you two slices of pie using pumpkin in one and butternut squash in the other, you would not be able to tell the difference. Trust me. So then, what are the benefits to using squash? How about it’s fresh. How about fresh tastes better. How about it hasn’t been hanging out in a can for eons, and hasn’t been processed from here to hell to make it capable of sitting on a supermarket shelf for eternity?
If you just can’t face peeling and cutting one of those damnably hard squashes, consider the modern convenience of pre-peeled and cut butternut squash, available in every major supermarket? All you have to do then is to boil, or steam the squash until it’s nice and tender, drain it until all the water has drained from it, mash it, or, better yet, whir it in the food processor, then proceed. This is my first choice. You can, of course, go looking for a genuine pumpkin, but they are not all edible, so it’s a bit of a chore, and the end result will, I can assure you, be no better than that using squash. As a final, last resort, you can still create a darned good pie using a can of pure pumpkin purée (NOT “Pumpkin Pie Filling”).
For your pie crust, you should visit my Fail-Proof Pie crust post before starting.
Makes one 9” pie
MIM’S PUMPKIN (OR SQUASH) PIE
My mother’s recipe
1 ½ cups puréed freshly cooked pumpkin, puréed fresh butternut squash, or, as a fall-back, one can (15 ounces) pure pumpkin (NOT pumpkin pie filling)
2/3 cup brown sugar
1 can (12 ounces) evaporated milk
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. cinnamon, plus ½ tsp ground ginger (or, use 2 tsp. pumpkin pie spice)
½ recipe Fail-Proof Pie Crust
Preheat the oven to 450° F.
Purée the pumpkin, brown sugar, evaporated milk, eggs, salt, cinnamon and ginger (or pumpkin pie spice) in a food processor or blender.
Put your crust into the pie plate and flute the edges. Pour in the pie filling. Put the pie plate on a rimmed baking sheet (line it with foil to avoid spill cleanup, if you wish). Carry it carefully (it spills all the time) to the oven and bake for 10 minutes. Reduce the heat to 350° F and bake until a knife inserted in the center of the lie come out clean. Remove the pie from the oven and let it cool on a cookie rack. Serve (at least pour moi) with a dollop of luscious whipped cream!