The holidays are now over, but damn it, it will be cold and snowy and gray for the next few months, so I will continue to cook in that comforting way that will bring us together until Spring… that’s late May for us here in Central Oregon. Holiday pumpkin pies are the epitome of comfort food for me, and over the years, I have made them out of literally anything remotely orange and tuberous or squashy that I can get my hands on. Rainshadow Organics always has a winter plethora of these goodies, as they are hearty and calorie dense and grow well at the -243 degrees F it feels like right now. I’m not sure if we appreciate how hard it is to ‘live off the land’ here in the High Desert. Rocky, arid soil, low humidity, highly variant temps, frozen fingers working the earth beneath them. They have spent years molding the earth to their whim, enriching it to produce relatively unheard of bounty in effort to create food sovereignty in this part of the region. So here we are, with a basket of roots and tubers, which I find humbling. I tend to overhear, ‘Oh God! More potatoes?!’ often enough, but I’ll keep coming up with new things to make, because eating from OUR land is special, and also, pie is effing delicious.
- Filling: 2 cups pumpkin (or any squashy tubery thing)
- Puree2: eggs, 2/3 cup brown sugar, 1/8 cup white sugar, 1/2 cup lard, 1/8 cup heavy cream, 1 tsp salt, 1 Tbsp pumpkin pie spice
- Crust: 2 cups AP flour, 1/2 cup lard, 1/2 tsp salt, 1/4 cup ice water
- You are going to want to start with the crust, as that will take the longest. Use frozen Rainshadow lard. This is a great way to incorporate this wonderful resource into your diet. Cut into half inch cubes for easier working. I cut it into the flour and salt by hand, but you can use a food processor to pulse it in until all combined ingredients are just coming together when you grab a handful and squeeze. You do not want to over process, as this will create too many gluten bonds, and it won’t be flaky. Also, you can use Rainshadow flour for this, but it will be a more nutrient dense, less flaky crust.
- Once all combined, pull together into a ball and wrap in cling wrap and place it in the fridge for at least an hour to let all the chemical reactions do their thing. I let it sit for a few hours, or even overnight sometimes.
- Cut the squash, pumpkin, or roots in half, de-seed if necessary. Roast cut side down at 400F for about an hour, or until tender.
- Remove all skins and place all in the blender. Add water as necessary until the puree just spins on its own in the blender. I find this makes much more than I need for the recipe, but I will freeze the rest for future use.
- Combine all filling ingredients and mix entirely… blender, immersion blender, whisk, etc… will work well.
- Chill filling until cool.
- Remove dough from fridge and roll out on a lightly floured surface until dough thickness… what is that? Maybe an ⅛ inch? It should be big enough to cover a standard pie pan single layer… with a bit left over.
- Line a pie tin with the dough, cut off the excess, crimp the edges, and prick with a fork all over to allow for release of steam and disallow bubbles.
- Pour chilled filling into the raw crust.
- Bake at 375F for about 20 minutes as is, then turn the temp down to 350F and wrap with tin foil so the crust doesn’t brown too much. Cook an additional 60 minutes until the center is set. You can check this with a toothpick in the center to see if it comes out clean. This might take more time. Check on it in 5 minute increments.
- Let cool completely and enjoy with fresh whipped cream or ice cream.