For Thanksgiving this year you could:
- Buy a premade pie crust, open a can of pumpkin, open a can of evaporated milk, throw in some eggs and some spices and be happy.
- Make your own pie crust and proceed as above.
- Do something completely different and make a pumpkin pie but better!
I am not a food snob. If you chose to go with option a, that’s fine with me. But I’m not a huge fan of pumpkin pie so every year I find myself searching for something that will make the pumpkin pie fans happy and that I will like too.
This year I think I found it.
The secret? It’s not pumpkin. It’s butternut squash.
When I thought about pumpkin pie I realized that it wasn’t the smooth custard texture that I minded so much as the overly spiced flavor masking…nothing. Pumpkin doesn’t taste like much to me. And believe me, I am so over pumpkin pie spice!
I do like squash, winter squash especially, so I turned to one of my favorites—butternut squash.
I roasted it with a little oil and some brown sugar.
Then I blended it down to a smooth puree.
Heavy cream was substituted for evaporated milk. And I skipped the spices altogether opting instead for vanilla and bourbon. Mix it all together and put it in the pastry shell.
I tried to get fancy with the decorating and discovered that it is best to add any pastry leaves or other flourishes after baking. I found that they sink into the pie if you put them on before. So I cut a bunch of leaves, brushed them with egg white and sprinkled them with sugar. They are like wonderful little cookies when cooked and they add a special crunch to the pie. (I admit that I may have plucked some off the finished pie and dipped them directly into the filling!)
I like this pie. It’s good pie.
VANILLA BOURBON BUTTERNUT SQUASH PIE
For the Squash puree
- 1 small butternut squash
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 2 tbsp brown sugar
For the Pie
- ¾ c brown sugar
- 3 large eggs
- 1 egg separated
- 2 ½ tbsp bourbon
- 1 tsp vanilla
- ½ tsp salt
- ¾ cup heavy cream
- 1 1/3 cup butternut squash puree
Prepared the puree
- Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Peel and dice the squash and toss it in the olive oil and brown sugar. Line a baking tray with foil and spread the squash on it. Roast for 20-30 minutes, stirring once midway through. Squash should be tender, and a fork should easily pierce it. Let the squash cool and puree it in a food processor or blender until smooth. The squash will keep for up to a week in the refrigerator or can be frozen.
For the pie
- Preheat the oven to 325 degrees
Roll out the pie crust and place in the freezer while you make the pie filling. (For instructions on how to make a pie crust check out my previous post, All About Pie: The Pastry)
- Whisk together the brown sugar, eggs and egg yolk, bourbon, vanilla, and salt. Stir in the squash puree and whisk until smooth. Stirring constantly, add the cream in a slow stream until everything is well combined.
- Pour into the pie crust and bake for 60-75 minutes until the edges are set and the center barely moves when jiggled.
- Optional: Roll out the pastry scraps and cut shapes with a small cookie cutter. Place on a parchment lined cookie sheet, brush with the reserved egg white and sprinkle with sugar. (Demerara sugar is best!) Bake in same oven with the pie for 15-20 minutes until the pastry is cooked and golden brown. Cool until the pie comes out of the oven and carefully place on the surface of the hot pie.