I have some gourds in my oven right now.
We’re contributing pumpkin pies to Thanksgiving this year, and that’s awesome. I love pumpkin pie; it’s always been one of my all time favorites. So when I decided to try making one from a real pumpkin after watching a Chow video showing how easy it is to get soft tender flesh from a pumpkin, I was excited but a little apprehensive. (I didn’t use his recipe, though, just got the initial inspiration to make a mostly from scratch pie.)
Turns out it really is simple to do, and ignore everything you’ve ever seen about cutting open and de-seeding the pumpkin beforehand because that’s annoying, messy and totally unnecessary. It turns out it’s so simple that I’m not even sure that it can be described as a “trick” in any way. Here’s what you do: wrap a whole pumpkin of your choice in foil and stick it in your oven on the lowest setting (200 degrees) for a minimum of 8 hours. You can put it in when you go to bed and scoop it out in the morning, no fuss.
It goes in like this.
And then when you pull it out later, it’s so soft and tender that the stem pulls right off and you can pop it right in half with a couple of big spoons. Everything is soft and tender, so you get the seeds out of your way and can scrape the flesh out. I’ve already made a couple pies so far this year (the first was a proof of concept pie), and I’m planning on making at least two more this week.
The one area where I fudge on my “from scratch” cred here is the crust. I have never, ever had any luck making homemade pie crust, no matter what my mom says about it being simple or whatever. I half believe that pie crust is a long-standing lie that parents and grandparents tell children to make them think it’s a good idea, when you should always just buy refrigerated crust and roll it out because it’s better than yours.
The photos here are from the last pie I made, since my mom has volunteered to make the crusts for me to put filling in tomorrow. I loved pumpkin pie before, but I confess that I’ve found that fresh pies made with pie pumpkins (can’t imagine what horror you’d serve up if you cooked jack-o-lanterns) are much better than the canned pies I’ve made before. It’s creamier in addition to being more flavorful, and I never really imagined it would be.