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~ Traditional Thanksgiving Preschutti Pumpkin Pie ~

IMG_6705When it comes to our Annual Thanksgiving feast, it is always a very traditional one.  I like to tell the story about my serving cranberry-lacquered cornish game hens -- once.  It was back in the early '90's and I found the recipe featured on the cover of Bon Appetit magazine.  I made 24 of them, one for each person.  They looked as magnificent as the magazine cover and they tasted as good as they looked, but, I wasn't feeling anything but polite indignation in my turkey-day dining room that evening.  My efforts were less appreciated the next day because there were no leftovers for sandwiches.  It was then I decreed Thanksgiving to be a stick-with-tradition meal.

IMG_6623A bit of pumpkin pie history:  When the first Colonists landed in North America, they found the Northeastern Native Americans growing squash and pumpkins, which they roasted or boiled for eating.  The original Colonists were less than impressed with this bland, watery substance until they had to face their first harsh Winter.  The Native tribes brought them pumpkins, and, out of necessity, the Colonists began finding creative ways to cook with it, which saved many of them from starvation.  

One such creation, which is believed to be the precursor to pumpkin pie, was a pudding made of milk, honey and spices, which was cooked in a hollowed out pumpkin shell (or "pompion" shell as the English called it) in hot ashes. Pumpkin pie as we know it today would not show up for another 50 years after the first Thanksgiving, as there were no ovens to bake traditional pies in.  

Roasted Pumpkin Puree #1 (Pumpkins with Cans)I do not dislike pumpkin pie, but, when faced with a Thanksgiving pie buffet, my Fall favories are sweet potato pie, pecan pie, and apple pie.  Why?  Until 2001, I had only tasted pumpkin pie made with canned pumpkin (or pumpkin pie mix).  It is what it is -- canned.  They all taste basically the same (the recipe is on the back of the can), and, they all lack what I call "wow factor":  a unique taste and texture.

Roasted Pumpkins of Tussey Mountain #1In the Summer of 2001, Joe added pumpkins to his gardening repertoire, and, in the Fall of 2001, I added freshly roasted pumpkin puree to my culinary bag of tricks. After a day of processing enough puree to make 12 pies, Turkey day arrived and the first pie emerged from the oven.  The light, silky-smooth, slightly-grainy custard in conjuction with the aromatic blend of spices and a hint of bourbon was, simply stated:  sensational.

IMG_2802~ Roasted Pumpkin Puree (The Preschutti Way!) ~ can be found in Categories 15, 18 or 22!!!

6a0120a8551282970b01538fb36192970b-800wiFor the pie pastry:

1/2 of my recipe for ~ Making Pate Brisee:  Basic Pie or Quiche Pastry ~, found in Categories 6, 15 or 22, or, your favorite pie pastry

IMG_6558For the filling:

2-2 1/4  cups roasted pumpkin puree, at room temperature

2  large eggs + 2  large egg yolks (reserve 1 of the egg whites for brushing inside of crust)

1  cup firmly-packed light brown sugar

1/2  teaspoon ground allspice

1/2  teaspooon ground cinnamon

IMG_65781  teaspoon ground ginger

1/4  teaspoon ground mace

1/4  teaspoon ground nutmeg

1/4  teaspoon salt

1 cup evaporated milk

2  tablespoons bourbon whiskey

1  teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1  egg white, lightly beaten, reserved from above

IMG_3929~ Step 1.  Roll, trim, pat and press pie pastry into a 9", glass pie dish. Form a decorative border around the edge.  Place the crust in the refrigerator to chill, at least 30 minutes.  In the meantime, preheat your oven to 350 degrees and prepare the pie filling as follows:

Note:  All too many times, recipes call for a blind-baked or prebaked pie shell, and, for the life of me, I can not figure out why.  Read on:

A blind-baked or prebaked pie shell is going to burn before the uncooked pie filling bakes to perfection.  As long as you use a clear glass pie dish directly on the oven rack (DO NOT place it on a baking pan), you'll have no problem.  Why?  In terms of a heat conductor, clear glass is like sitting on a sunny beach without a shirt.  Your crust is going to brown.  The end. 

IMG_6579~ Step 2.  Place all ingredients for the pie filling in a large mixing bowl (as pictured above).  Using a hand-held electric mixer on medium-high speed, blend until smooth, about 2 minutes.  Set aside.

~ Step 3.  Remove pie pastry from refrigerator.  Using a fork, lightly beat one of the egg whites and paint the inside of the chilled pie crust with the egg white.  Why am I doing this?  It's therapeutic.

IMG_6651Brushing the crust w/egg white minimizes separation anxiety. 

IMG_6593Pumpkin pie filling is notorious for separating from the crust as it cools. It is a natural occurrence, and, it happens to all pies.  All pie crusts shrink as they cool, and so do all pie fillings.  Most times shrinkage is masked by a top crust or topping of some sort.  In the case of custard pies like pumpkin, whipped cream hides the imperfections.  This is the reason why pumpkin pie is best baked the same day it is served and NEVER refrigerated.  FYI:  Brushing egg white on the inside of the crust before baking minimizes separation anxiety for 8+ extra hours.

IMG_6606 IMG_6600~ Step 4. Transfer pie filling into prepared pie pastry.  Bake on center rack of preheated 350 degree oven for 40-45 minutes, or until a cake tester comes out clean.  Do not overbake.  Center of pie will be almost puffed and not completely set.  Pie will set up as it cools.

Remove from oven and  cool on a rack 2-4 hours, prior to serving warm or at room temperature:

IMG_6760Traditional Thanksgiving Preschutti Pumpkin Pie:  Recipe yields 1, 9" pie, or, 8-10 servings.

Special Equipment List:  9" pie dish, preferably glass; large rubber spatula; hand-held electric mixer; cake tester or toothpick

PICT3129Cook's Note:  In the event you've never tasted one of these, my recipe for ~ From a Potato to My Southern Sweet Potato Pie ~ is in Categories 6 & 18.  Sweet potatoes never tasted so good.

"We are all in this food world together." ~ Melanie Preschutti

(Recipe, Commentary and Photos courtesy of Melanie's Kitchen/Copyright 2013)


Teresa! If I do say so myself, "I make a wonderful pumpkin pie", and, "I don't know what I'd do without my farmer!"

That is a beautiful pie Mel! Farmer Joe did good too!

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