The right pumpkins for pie

While having fun with pumpkins this season, take time to bake that pie! The jumbo jackolantern pumpkins are not the ones for your pie purée.
     You want the smaller pumpkins, ones that are part of the winter squash family, says Chef Jon DuBois of Green Zebra restaurant in Chicago. These pumpkins are so closely related to winter squash, any winter squash would make a fine subsitute.
     He recommends asking farmers at farmers markets, what they prefer for pumpkin pie.
     To make the pie, you may purchase a pumpkin purée, or make one.
     I say, make the homemade purée! Dig into those little pumpkins to make your pie fresh, fresh, fresh!
     And save the seeds to bake afterward. Pumpkin seeds make a tasty snack!

Pumpkin Pie
recipe contributed by Chef Jon DuBois at Green Zebra restaurant, Chicago

Pie Recipe
1 3/4 cup (about 15 oz) pumpkin purée (fresh or canned)

1/2 cup heavy cream
3 large eggs
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg

Pumpkin Purée
Take 3 pumpkins that are 4″-diameter. Cut the pumpkins in half and clean out the seeds.  Brush the inside with a little oil and season with salt.  Place the pumpkins cut side down on a cookie sheet and place in a pre-heated 350 degree oven until tender (about 30-40 minutes).

Once they are tender take out the pumpkins and let them cool slightly. (The flesh is easier to remove if they are still warm.)  Take a spoon and remove the flesh from the skin and pass it through a ricer or a food mill.  If you don’t have either of those you can purée it in a food processor or mash it by hand.

Instructions
In a bowl whisk together pumpkin, heavy cream, eggs, brown sugar, and spices and pour into pie shell.

Bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour or until the pie filling is set but center still trembles slightly. Take it out and let it cool completely. The pie will still cook as it cools and won’t be fully set until is is completely cool.  Once it is cool serve and enjoy.  Keep refrigerated.  It should last 3 days in the refrigerator.

*Improvising Ideas*
Flavor the pie per your tastes, preferences, mood.
     Traditional fall spices to add when cooking with pumpkins and other winter squash, says Chef Dubois,  include cinnamon, fresh nutmeg, brown sugar, cloves, and allspice. One of your favorites isn’t in the recipe? Add a few sprinkles.
     As for non-traditional flavor additives, “If you are feeling a little adventurous,” says Chef Dubois, “Try using blue cheese, szechuan pepper, miso, thyme, sage, bacon or bourbon the next time you make a pie or cake. You may find that you like it more than the traditional route.”

***this article was originally published in autumn, 2010

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