Wednesday, November 24, 2010

25 Days of Thanksgiving – Day 24

pumpkinpiedoneAbout 7 years ago I discovered Alton Brown’s Good Eats on the Food Network. It renewed a interested in cooking in me that finds its full expression at this time of year.

One of my favorite parts of our Thanksgiving dinner is the pumpkin pie. I’ve only had pumpkin pie made from a can so this year, after watching an AltonBrow_John_12899398_600episode of Good Eats, I decided that it was time to try my hand at making a pumpkin pie from scratch.

Alton Brown makes everything look so easy, but in this case it actually came out that way. It took me about 2 hours and I think it came out just great! I changed the recipe just a tad to reflect my own tastes, and I’ll share that at the bottom of this blog.

I’m thankful that God provides all the produce for a pumpkin pie – pumpkins, eggs, cream, spices, sugar. I’m thankful also for whoever figured out how to put all these things together in just the right amounts, in just the order.

Wednesdays are usually the day my wife and I make the pies for Thanksgiving dinner. That’s today!

We’re closing in on the big day! Let me know if you try this recipe this year and how it turned out!

Alton Brown’s Pumpkin Pie (modified)



6 ounces grahm crackers (Brown’s recipe calls for gingersnap cookies)
1 tablespoon golden brown sugar (Brown’s recipe calls for dark brown sugar)
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1 ounce unsalted butter, melted


16 ounces Pumpkin Puree, recipe follows
1 cup half-and-half
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg (Brown’s recipe calls for freshly grated nutmeg)
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
3/4 cup golden brown sugar
2 large eggs
1 large egg yolk


Heat the oven to 350 degrees F.

For the crust: Combine the graham crackers, brown sugar, and ginger  in a freezer bag and crush with rolling pin (Brown’s recipe calls for crushing them in a food processor). Crush until the crackers are fine crumbs. Drizzle the butter into the crumb mixture and shake to combine thoroughly (Brown’s recipe calls for pulsing it 8 to 10 times to combine).

Press the graham cracker mixture into the bottom, up the sides, and just over the lip of a 9-inch glass pie dish. Place on a half sheet pan and bake the crust for 10 to 12 minutes. Cool crust at least 10 minutes before filling.

For the filling: Bring the pumpkin puree to a simmer over medium heat in a 2-quart saucepan. Cook, stirring occasionally, until slightly thickened, 2 to 3 minutes. Add the half-and-half, nutmeg, and salt. Stir and return the mixture to a simmer. Remove the pumpkin mixture from the heat and cool for 10 minutes.

Whisk the brown sugar, eggs, and yolk until smooth in a large bowl. Add the pumpkin mixture and whisk until thoroughly combined. Pour the prepared filling into the warm pie crust and bake on the same half sheet pan until the center jiggles slightly but the sides of the filling are set, 45 to 50 minutes. Cool on a cooling rack for at least 2 to 3 hours before slicing. Pie can be made and refrigerated up to 2 days in advance. Pie is best the day after it is made.

Pumpkin Puree:

1 (4 to 6-pound) baking pumpkin, rinsed and dried
Kosher salt

Heat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Slice a small piece of skin off the one side of the pumpkin so when laid on its side, the pumpkin will lay flat without rolling. Remove the stem and split the pumpkin in half from top to bottom (I used a large knife for this – Brown uses a cleaver and mallet). Scoop out the seeds and fiber with a large metal spoon or ice cream scoop. Cut the fibers with kitchen shears if necessary.

Sprinkle the flesh with kosher salt and lay the halves, flesh side down, on a parchment paper-lined half sheet pan. Roast until a paring knife can be easily inserted and removed from the pumpkin, 30 to 45 minutes. Test in several places to ensure doneness.

Remove the half sheet pan to a cooling rack and cool the pumpkin for 1 hour. Using a large spoon, remove the roasted flesh of the pumpkin from the skin to the bowl of a stand mixer (Brown uses a food processor). Use the whisk attachment on low for 3 to 4 minutes or until smooth. Store in the fridge for up to 1 week or freeze for up to 3 months.


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