“Just how Jewish is that?” Good question, the answer is not very. After all there weren’t any Jews on the Mayflower. But it is downright American. Pumpkins (along with their fellow squashes not to mention peppers, tomatoes and bison) are native to the Americas. This baked custard has been a holiday classic for decades and since my family has been here for over 100 years, I think we can safely embrace our native culture with the same relish we took on potatoes in Poland (after all, Jews aren’t really from Poland and potatoes aren’t either).
My take on pumpkin pie starts with a good pumpkin. This year I found mine at Perry Farms. I asked about a good pie pumpkin and they suggested a variety called a Sweetie Pie. Now there is perfectly good pumpkin available in cans, but I like the sense of starting from scratch. I also had my still new(ish) grinder and it made the work of pureeing the roasted pumpkin as simple as feeding the chunks down the tube- as opposed to a good half an hour of hand cranking my food mill. My other personal touch is the addition of Bourbon whiskey (Jefferson’s Reserve this year). I like the oaken note it adds to the mix. I don’t use cloves, although it is popular in many pumpkin based recipes I find it too strong.
Of course when I got around to making my pie on a busy Friday afternoon my sense of “from scratch” was at war with my sense of “cook everything before dinner” and that’s when I caved in and bought a frozen crust. While it lacks the charm of personal touch, it saved me an hour of work and prep. It also looks so much better than any crust I have managed to pull off.
Recipe after the break
Take a canning pumpkin and cut it in half, remove seeds and then cut the pumpkin into smaller pieces and arrange on a sheet pan. Bake at 350 for 1.5-2 hours (or longer if needed) until cooked thoroughly. After the pumpkin has cooled enough to handle, cut away the skin. Using a grinder or food mill reduce the pumpkin to a mash and then place in a strainer overnight to drain. Ideally you want the puree has dry as possible to control the moisture content of the custard.
2 cups cooked and pureed pumpkin drained of excess water
1 cup brown sugar
2 tsp ground ginger
2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
1/2 tsp salt
1 tb bourbon whiskey
1/2 cup cream
1/2 cup milk
Preheat oven to 400. Take either a fresh or frozen crust and prick the bottom with a fork all across the flat of the pan. Set aside. In a sauce pan heat pumpkin, spices, bourbon and sugar to a bare simmer. Cook about five min and then add milk and cream. Heat again to a low simmer. Once oven has come to heat, put crust inside for 10 minutes and then remove to a sheet pan on the counter. Move an oven rack to the lowest position.
Scramble the eggs and then using a food processor or stand mixer combine half the pumpkin mix with the eggs. Once the mix has combined completely add the remaining pumpkin. Pour mixture into pie crust, place in oven and bake for 20-25 minutes until the center still jiggles but the edges look firm. Remove and allow to cool on a wire rack for an hour or more.