Looking to increase the number of oohs and aahs you receive this Thanksgiving?
Try going the homemade heirloom route by using winter squash instead of canned pumpkin in your pumpkin pies. One of the very best varieties for making pies is Winter Luxury, new at Seed Savers Exchange for 2013.
Also known as Livingston’s Pie Squash, Winter Luxury was introduced in 1893 by Johnson & Stokes of Philadelphia. Fruits average 6 pounds, making them the perfect size for two pies. Orange rind is covered in delicate netting; flesh is smooth, sweet, and fiber-free. It's not the best keeper, so enjoy it by Thanksgiving or turn it into squash puree and freeze it until you're ready to use it.
Amy Goldman, author of The Compleat Squash, has this to say: “Winter Luxury Pie is my favorite orange pumpkin, and were she not the finest pie stock in the land, she still would be a knockout. . . . Winter Luxury Pie makes the smoothest and most velvety pumpkin pie I’ve ever had. When cut into a wedge on a plate, it holds its shape, color, and flavor long after the competition has keeled over and died.”
Winter Luxury should be baked whole, pierced for a few tiny vent holes, stem trimmed.
Bake at 350°F until it "slumps" and softens after an hour or so.
If you wish, you can cut a lid, remove the gunk and seeds, and replace the lid loosely before baking (this method yields a drier pie).
The cooked pumpkin is hotter than hot potatoes: Be careful when you cut out or remove the lid. Seeds and strings, if left inside, come out easily. Take a large spoon and simply scoop the pumpkin out like ice cream.
The flesh peels away from the desiccated rind without a shudder and leaves it flat.
Puree the flesh in a blender, adding liquid if needed.
My standard pumpkin pie recipe comes from my Grandma Ivah Babcock. It's a family heirloom just as Winter Luxury squash is a garden heirloom.
Grandma Ivah’s Pumpkin Pie
1 ½ cup pumpkin puree ¾ cup sugar ½ teaspoon salt 1 - 1 ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon ½ - 1 teaspoon ground ginger ¼ - ½ teaspoon ground nutmeg ¼ - ½ teaspoon ground cloves 3 eggs 1 ½ cup milk (preferably whole) 2/3 cup (about 6 ounces) evaporated milk
Preheat oven to 400°F. Prepare pie plate with a single pie crust.
Mix pumpkin puree, sugar, salt, and spices.
In a separate bowl combine eggs, milk, and evaporated milk.
Blend milk mixture into pumpkin mixture (texture will be very thin).
Pour into pie crust. Bake for 50 minutes or until the center of the pie has begun to set.
The pie will continue to set as it cools to room temperature.
As a side note, some people dislike the moist bottom crust of pumpkin pie. One method for a drier, crisper crust is par-baking.
Prepare your crust as usual. Line it with parchment paper or tin foil. Fill it with pie weights, pennies, or my personal favorite—dry beans. I keep a large jar of True Red Cranberry beans around for this purpose. Keep in mind that once you have used beans as pie weights, you won't want to eat them. All of the moisture has been baked out! Bake the crust for 10 minutes, then remove the weights and parchment (CAREFUL! They're hot!). Bake the crust for 5-10 minutes more until the crust is golden brown. Then add your pie filling to the warm crust and bake as directed. Since you have already baked the crust, you will want to cover the rim with foil or a pie crust guard to keep it from burning as the pie filling bakes.
Voila! The ultimate in heirloom cookery!
Seed Savers Exchange is a non-profit organization with a mission to conserve and promote America's culturally diverse but endangered garden and food crop heritage for future generations by collecting, growing, and sharing heirloom seeds and plants.