In case you haven’t heard, stocks of canned pumpkin may be depleted by Thanksgiving, with potentially none left over for Christmas. This is not good…and combined with the fact that the U.S. Post Office will no longer forward letters from children to the N. Pole, that’s a double whammy for the festive season.
I’d like to suggest a solution to the pie quandry: (I can imagine the expression on some people’s faces as I suggest trying a squash pie this year). Before you get all hot and bothered about it, though, note that the pumpkin itself is a squash:
Pumpkin is a gourd-like squash of the genus Cucurbita and the family Cucurbitaceae (which also includes gourds) (source)
So, if you’re one of those kids who didn’t like squash, who grew into one of those adults that doesn’t like squash, understand that if mom had prepared a hunk of pumpkin the same way she prepared that “other” yellow vegetable you loathe, you wouldn’t have liked it any better. Because all winter squash tastes just about the same, with subtle differences we’ll leave to connoisseurs.
The bottom line is that if you hate squash, but like pumpkin pie, a butternut or acorn squash will make a pie that tastes pretty much like the old standard. So if you’re fresh out of pumpkin, but can get your hands on a winter squash, or even packages of frozen squash (check your grocer’s freezer section), then everything will be fine.
Below are directions for preparing a squash pie, preceded by instructions on how to cook the squash beforehand (if you’re using frozen prepared squash, after cooking it will have the perfect pureed texture).
PREPARING WINTER SQUASH
With a sharp knife, cut the squash in half lengthwise – you can tap your knife lightly with a wooden mallet if your knife is not going through. Scoop out the seeds. Lay each half of the squash cut side down on your board and slice again, to create quarters Then lay each quarter flat on your board, and slice off the peel with your chef’s knife. Alternatively, you may peel each slice with a vegetabl epeeler, then cut each slice into cubes or pieces for cooking. Cook in enough water just to cover the squash. Before mashing/pureeing squash, drain any excess water that remains in pan.
MAKING THE PIE
- ¾ cup sugar
- 1½ tsp cinnamon
- ½ each of tsp salt, nutmeg and ground ginger
- ¼ tsp each of allspice and ground cloves
- Two eggs
- 1½ cups cooked,pureed winter squash
- 1 2/3 cups whole milk or cream
Combine sugar, cinnamon, salt, nutmeg and ground ginger allspice and ground cloves. Beat the two eggs, then mix with 1 1/2 cups cooked, pureed winter squash and 1 2/3 whole milk or cream. Add dry ingredients and mix until smooth. Pour into a pie shell. Bake in a pre-heated oven at 425 degrees for 15 minutes, reduce the heat to 350 degrees and bake for 30-35 minutes, until set. Cool and serve.