My most favorite thing to do is take a traditional dish and rework the ingredients. Giving the dish a twist if you will. That is usually an easy task for me when it comes to anything that is sautéed, poached or roasted. Baking? Now that is whole different ball game. I am very honest about my feelings when it comes to baking desserts. I have five or six stellar desserts that I can rock like a star at any catering function. Do I like making them? Meh. Frankly I would rather be caramelizing an onion or creating a soup. So with Thanksgiving upon us I share with you a fantastic pie recipe that comes with a twist.
My discovery came just last week when faced with doing a dessert for a dinner party where I had various winter squash throughout the menu. Hilltop Hanover Farm has many beautiful winter squash including Blue Hubbard. Seeing them when I picked up my share last week gave me the inspiration.
Blue Hubbards look daunting at first blush. They are a great deal larger than most winter squash so your inclination would be to pass it by. I encourage you to give it a try. The outside is a pale blue color, hence the name, and the flesh inside is vibrant orange. They have a slightly starchy texture with a flavor reminiscent of sweet potato. Blue Hubbards have an affinity to sweet: maple syrup, brown sugar, and savory: onion and sage. Perfect for pie, soup and even a pasta sauce.
One of my favorite search engines for recipes is the NY Times cooking site. There is a treasure trove of recipes on it, easily searched from your desk top or the app. It was there that I found a perfect recipe for my Blue Hubbard. Before we get to the recipe let’s talk about what you need to do with the squash.
This squash will be difficult to cut with just a basic kitchen knife. The outer skin is quite hard making it perfect for storing throughout the winter months. My suggestion would be to place it in a clean bag and drop it with great force on the ground outside. It will easily break into two or three pieces. From there you will be able to break it down further.
Scoop out the seeds and place on a rimmed baking sheet. Bake in a pre-heated 400 degree oven until very soft, somewhere between 45 minutes and an hour.
Let the squash cool down enough to handle and scrape the flesh from the skin. It will easily separate with just a little help from your spoon.
Puree the flesh to a very smooth consistency. From this point your have two options: you can either scoop it into containers or drain. Since you’ve committed yourself to the effort go ahead and drain the puree. Line a colander with a paper towel and scoop in the smooth squash. Shift it around with a rubber spatula to release the liquid. You only need to let it go for about 20-30 minutes. Now you are ready to use your puree! My rule of thumb for almost any winter squash puree is one cup of processed from each pound of squash. So if you have a 10 pound Blue Hubbard you will have a load of squash to put away for another time!
This is probably a good time to mention that an excellent weekend task is to bake and breakdown your winter squash. It makes life so much easier when you want to make a soup, salad or pie! I like using pint and quart containers. Label them and off they go to the freezer.
Enjoy this recipe and have the happiest of holidays this coming weekend.
Blue Hubbard Squash Pie
Recipe by Molly O’Neill, NY Times Cooking
Makes 1 pie
1 ½ cups Blue Hubbard baked squash puree (see note)
4 eggs, lightly beaten
¾ cup pure maple syrup
½ cup half-and-half
½ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 9-inch pie shell
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
1. To make the filling, blend all ingredients together until smooth.
2. Scrape into the pie shell and bake for 10 minutes.
3. Reduce the heat to 325 degrees and continue baking until the filling is set, about 50 minutes.
4. Remove from oven and cool completely to help it set up. Placing in the ‘fridge for a bit is most ideal and helps slicing.
5. Top with whipped cream sweetened with maple syrup or a touch of cinnamon.
Cook’s note slightly adapted: To make the puree, break the squash in to manageable chunks by placing it in a clean bag and dropping it on your porch. Scrape out the seeds. Roast at 400 degrees for about 1 hour on a foil lined baking sheet. Scoop the flesh from the skin and puree in a food processor. There will be some liquid. That won’t be a problem if you making soup, but for the pie you will want to drain it a little. Line a colander with a paper towel and set over a bowl. Let it sit for about 30 minutes, moving it around with a small spatula occasionally. Whatever you don’t use for the recipe label and store in pint size containers, in the freezer.