Pumpkin pie is my favorite Thanksgiving morning breakfast. The last couple of years, my Mom has had some nice squash in her garden, both cushaw and butternut. Cushaw is a traditional old food in the South. It is a large winter squash, closely related to pumpkin, with long storage potential. A properly "hardened off" cushaw can be stored for up to a year easily. In the days before refrigeration, this was an important food source, giving beta carotene mid-winter. It doesn't make a good jack-o-lantern, but for food, it's a great item to grow, if you have room.
Although in our family, this squash had been eaten mostly as a side dish or simply topped with sugar and spice for dessert, we had heard tales of cushaw pie being "better than pumpkin". I found a great blog post and recipe for this pie on a blog named "The Pretend Texas Farmer" last year. We liked it, tweaked it slightly, and it's now a keeper. This recipe results in essentially a slighter lighter pumpkin pie, with a great flavor. This is a great squash, and one squash often gives us enough for around three pies. The original recipe was for one pie, but we always need at least two, so I double it. Use your favorite single-crust pie crust recipe. We've used several different crust recipes, and it is up to your own preference.
Cushaw (Pumpkin) Pie
Yeild: 2 pies
- 4 cups prepared cushaw squash puree
- 1 1/3 cup brown sugar
- 4 1/2 teaspoons of pumpkin pie spice mix
- 6 large eggs
- 2 teaspoon vanilla
- 2 1/4 cups heavy cream (evaporated milk can substitute)
Preparing the Squash
- Split your cushaw squash in half lengthwise. This can be very difficult, as this skin is sometimes quite hard. You might need to try a large butcher knife, a large serrated knife, or even a hatchet (my grandmother's favorite tool for this task).
- Use a large spoon to scrape the seeds and stringy "squash guts" out of the center cavity. The cavity might extend into the slim neck, or the neck might be solid "meat".
- Place the two halves, cut-side-down, on a large cookie sheet (one with raised edges, to catch any liquid, not a modern completely flat pan).
- Bake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for an hour. Check for a knife to slide easily into the squash with no resistance. If the squash is soft, it is done.
- Remove from the oven, and let the squash cool. Seriously, don't burn yourself.
- Once cooled, use your large spoon to scrape the flesh of the squash from the skin. In some cases, the skin may bubble away from the squash, and be pretty easy to peel off.
- Use a large mixer or food p[rocessor to puree the squash.
- Line a colander with cheesecloth or mesh, and fill it with the cushaw. Let it sit over a mixing bowl or the sink, until it stops dripping.
- Add all of the ingredients, in the order listed above, to the bowl of a mixer, one at a time, mixing on low just until blended in each time.
- Pour half into each of your two pie crusts.
- Bake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for about an hour, until the center doesn't jiggle, and the crust is golden brown.
Enjoy! Don't burn yourself! Bonus: Save the seeds, rinse them, toss them in olive oil and sea salt, and toast them on a cookie sheet in the oven. Just like pumpkin seeds, they are a great snack!