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29 November 2010
Happy belated Thanksgiving, everybody! I hope you had a great holiday and got to enjoy lots of food and quality time with loved ones.
Over here at our casa, we cooked what I believe was our best and most delicious Thanksgiving yet (wohoo!), and because we had more guests than in the past (three guests, five of us total), I would call it a resounding success.
Full recap of the meal coming tomorrow, but first here's a look at our best ever pumpkin pie.
First key step in our success: making the pastry ourselves. We followed the Cook's Illustrated pumpkin pie recipe, including their vodka-involving pie crust recipe for the lightest, flakiest crust possible. And flakiest is right! It barely held together to get mixed together, to get rolled out, or to make its way into the pie plate.
But somehow it actually came out looking pretty good in the pie plate, handmade fluted edge and everything. (That is, until we baked the crust and it looked like we never fluted it at all, but I'll save that for later.)
Next we made the base, also from the Cook's Illustrated recipe, and the same recipe we've made for three years now. Instead of using just pumpkin, it uses a mixture of pumpkin and sweet potato, along with some maple syrup and -- I believe this is the key -- fresh spices.
I know that for someone who has never freshly grated nutmeg, cinnamon or ginger, it's probably a smidge intimidating. But seriously, with just a $15 microplane, you can make quick work of all three (plus lots of other things like hard cheeses, chocolate, and the list goes on).
Unlike the recipe off the side of the pumpkin can which, admittedly, I loved for many years, the Cook's Illustrated recipe has you cook the pumpkin and custard base to blend and intensify the flavors, and then everything gets strained. The past two years, Mark has labored to force everything through a fine mesh sieve, but that was hard, tedious work. This year, we decided to use the food mill instead, and the result was great, and a whole lot less work.
Next, into the pie shell, which has by this time deformed itself in the oven... where did all of my careful fluting go??? (This is another key to the recipe, by the way -- baking the crust first, and adding the filling to the crust while it's still warm. Prevents soggy crust!)
After a little time in the oven, voila! Notice, the center is still a little jiggly, but that's essential to prevent overcooking it. It firms up while it cools.
We also had enough leftover crust and filling to make a mini pie in a creme brulee dish, and we may have sampled it before guests arrived... we had to be sure we weren't feeding them something yucky, after all!
At last, dessert time came, and it was time to serve up the pie. Soooooo delicious!
We served it with a nice Tokaji, a Hungarian dessert wine that has just a tiny spiciness to it, perfect for the spices in the pumpkin pie.
Of course, we also served the pie with some freshly whipped up whipped cream.
Though, let's be honest. I put a little more than that on my slice.
No wonder I feel like I need to hit the gym! Stay tuned for the full Thanksgiving recap tomorrow!
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