Dark Days talks turkey

Posted by Anita on 11.28.07 10:57 AM

(c)2007 AEC  ** ALL rights reservedCome on, people, say it with me:

“Ugh, not turkey again!”

I know, I know — you’re probably as sick of reading about turkey as I am of eating it right about now. But, alas, that’s one of the perils of being the hostess: A house full of family and a fridge full of food seriously cuts into your blogging time. But now they’re all on their way — the relatives to the airport, the leftovers to the freezer or compost bin — and I’ve got a moment to get caught up.

(And I promise if you stick with me to the end, there’s a treat.)

I’d been noticing the steady disappearance of some of our autumn staples from the farmers market — bye-bye avocados, so long green beans — but at least when it came to our Thanksgiving feast, nearly everything came from within a 100-mile radius of home. As I wrote out my shopping list, I realized that I didn’t have to eliminate many favorites, and it occurred to me that Thanksgiving may be one of the few times of the year that most Americans are eating seasonally. With the exception of the cranberries in the relish, the bowl of buttered corn niblets (which I zipped and froze a few months ago), and a bit of commercial flour, everything on our plates came fresh from the farm, ranch, or dairy just a few days before they were eaten.

Rather than list a page-long litany of producers and distances here, I decided to create a GoogleDocs spreadsheet. (Geek is the new black, they tell me.) I was so pleased that we inadvertently managed to do even better than usual for this one meal — our turkey was the only significant item that came from more than 100 miles away, although still very much inside our 200-mile protein foodshed. We also managed three other 99%-local meals this week: Lasagne served with beet and bleu cheese salad, pork chops with risotto and roasted cauliflower, and the ever-popular family tradition of a “(Not)-Spam and Eggs” holiday brunch.


But enough about that; let’s skip ahead to dessert.

Longtime readers may recall my earlier confession that neither Cameron nor I enjoy eating squash. Amusingly enough, this even extends to pumpkin pie… or at least it did until a few years ago. In deference to holidays guests — for whom Thanksgiving would not be complete without a slice of crusted Curcubita custard — I grabbed a handy recipe and whipped it up.

The recipe’s unique twist was the use of pumpkin puree, rather than solid-pack squash, a tricky thing to find outside of health food stores in those days. (It’s since become ubiquitous at Whole Foods and the like, so you shouldn’t have to hunt.) My guests raved about the pie with such genuine eye-rolling pleasure that I reluctantly tried a small sliver. And wouldn’t you know it: This pie, for some reason, had no trace of the abhorred squashiness, just a luscious, pumpkin-y goodness.

I suspect that there’s something about the solid-pack processing that makes pumpkin especially gag-worthy, and that choosing puree keeps the texture light and the flavor fresh. This year, we steamed our own Sugar Pie pumpkins from Mariquita Farm, pureed the flesh, and used it in place of the canned variety. If anything, the result was even better than usual — a pumpkin pie that even squash-haters can love.

(c)2007 AEC ** ALL rights reserved(c)2007 AEC ** ALL rights reserved(c)2007 AEC ** ALL rights reserved(c)2007 AEC ** ALL rights reserved(c)2007 AEC ** ALL rights reserved

Classic Pumpkin Pie

single-crust pie dough, chilled 1 hour
(I use Martha’s pate brisee, replacing half of the butter with home-rendered leaf lard)

1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup loosely packed brown sugar
1-1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1 tsp. ground nutmeg
1/2 tsp. table salt
2 large eggs
4 large egg whites
1 pound pumpkin puree, or a 15 oz can (not solid pack)
1 cup cream
1 tsp vanilla extract

Position rack in lower third of oven, and preheat to 425° F.

In a large bowl, whisk sugar, brown sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt. Add eggs and egg whites, and whisk until well blended. Add pumpkin, whisking until smooth, then cream and vanilla; continue whisking until well combined.
On a lightly floured surface, roll out the dough into an 12-inch circle. Drape dough over rolling pin and fit into a 9-inch pie pan. Fold edges under and crimp. Place crust on a baking sheet.

Pour filling into crust, and bake for 10 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 325° F, and continue to bake 55 to 75 minutes more, until center barely jiggles when the pan is tapped. If needed, cover the crust with foil strips or a shield to prevent over-browning.

Transfer pie to a wire rack, and cool. If not serving within the hour, loosely cover and refrigerate. (The crust suffers slightly, but the filling is even better when chilled.)

baking, dessert, holidays & occasions, locavore, recipes



Comment by maria~

That’s so awesome the you try to eat local :) Being situated in Illinois, it’s a challenge for me to do so just because all you can find grown within a 100 mile radius of Chicago is probably corn and I don’t even really like corn…

But anyway, I’m so not sick of turkey…yet, because even though I cooked a 12-lb. turkey, my 5 cousins and I finished it all on Thanksgiving day. Quite incredible considering there were only 2 boys. But they were (and still are, I suspect) 2 very hungry boys :)

Posted on 11.28.07 at 11:32AM

Comment by Jennifer Hess

I’m actually beginning to feel just the tiniest twinge of regret about dining out and thus not having Thanksgiving leftovers to play with this year… ah, well. :)

I’m not a huge fan of sweets, but our brand new food processor just arrived and we’re excited to start playing with it – I think I’m going to give your spin on that pie crust recipe a try very soon.

Posted on 11.28.07 at 1:28PM

Comment by Bri

I love it “geek is the new black…”. That’s great that you made a spreadsheet, and awesome that the average distance was well under 100 miles. I did my best as well, though a lot was out of my hands. But, just today, before I left for the bi-weekly farmers market run and Trader Joe’s, my mother in law asked me to get TJ box of clementines. Don’t you like the local ones? (I asked) Oh yeah, those are fine (she said). So, every little bit helps. :)
Like most things in life, I think you just don’t like BAD pumpkin pie.

Posted on 11.28.07 at 1:29PM

Pingback by Dark Days Challenge, Week 7 recap « Urban Hennery

[...] And back home at Married… with Dinner, yours truly belatedly outlines our 100-mile Thanksgiving feast (complete with geeky spreadsheet!), offering a recipe for everything-from-scratch pumpkin pie as an apology for slothful posting behavior. Our visiting family also scarfed down locavore versions of lasagna and salad, pork chops and risotto, and our traditional “(Not)-Spam” holiday brunch. [...]

Posted on 12.02.07 at 6:09PM

Comment by Laura

Late to the game on this post, but how did you steam your pumpkin? I’ll be doing mine on Wed night to make pie on Thurs and must confess that I’ve never steamed anything squashy :(


Posted on 11.22.08 at 10:08PM

Comment by Anita

I cut the pumpkins into large chunks, scooped the seeds, and then put them in my steamer. I poked at them until they seemed done… then peeled the skin away and pureed the flesh with a stick blender.

Here’s a photo — my obsessive documentation habit comes in handy!
http://flickr.com/photos/marriedwithdinner/2050511808/in/set-72157603400928718/ (The photo set is called “pumpkin butter”, but this is the puree I made for pie. I used the leftovers to make the spread for gifts.)

Posted on 11.22.08 at 10:48PM

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