Our garden was a disaster this year. A late start, some inattention during a critical early period, and very few hot days left us with not a lot of produce. The tomatoes were pathetic, and the zucchini only really started producing at the beginning of September. Therefore, we leaned on the farmers’ market more than usual.
However, one item that we always get from the market, regardless of how well (or how miserably) our garden did, is pie pumpkins.
I am a lucky woman, because my husband makes a wonderful pumpkin pie. And he doesn’t use the canned stuff; he starts with an actual pumpkin, roasted in the oven. And… he’s starting smoking the pumpkin before roasting it.
When he first suggested doing this, I admit to being skeptical. Smoky pie? I rolled my eyes. Ever since we got the smoker, he’s smoked a huge variety of things, and I’ve liked most of them. But smoky pie was just weird, I thought.
I was wrong.
Obviously, you don’t want the pumpkin saturated with smoke, so it’s only lightly smoked. Pumpkin is like a sponge for smoke, so it’s a good idea to smoke it at the tail end of some other smoke job you have going. I’ve included instructions in the recipe below. But he had a few other suggestions that might help you find success:
- Make sure you’re getting a pie pumpkin. You can make pies with regular pumpkins (like the ones you carve for Hallowe’en), but they won’t taste nearly as good. Proper pie pumpkins have dense flesh and a high sugar content.
- Heft it a bit. You want one that’s heavy for its size.
- Pick a pumpkin with at least an inch or two inches of stem left, and avoid pumpkins with soft spots.
- Use a mild, sweet smoke like apple or maple.
- Save any leftover pumpkin puree in a freezer bag, and use it in soups, muffins, or to pad out your next pie.
Finally, he noted that he screws with this recipe constantly; this is just its current iteration.
- 2 pie pumpkins
- 4 cups smoked pumpkin puree
- 1 300ml can of sweetened condensed milk
- 2 eggs
- ¼ cup half-n-half
- 2 TB brown sugar
- ½ tsp salt
- 2 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1 tsp (rounded) nutmeg
- ¼ tsp ground clove
- 1 tsp ground ginger
- ½ tsp cardamom
- 2 prepared pie shells (using your favourite recipe or store-bought)
- Preheat smoker to 250°F and start apple or maple smoke.
- Preheat oven to 425°F.
- Split pumpkins vertically and remove seeds.
- Place pumpkins in smoker.
- Smoke for 20 minutes, then remove from smoker. (Pumpkin absorbs smoke like a sponge, so beware of leaving the pumpkins in for much longer.)
- Line two cookie sheets with foil and cover the bottom of the sheets with water.
- Place smoked pumpkins face-down on the foil and place in oven.
- Bake until soft. After 30 minutes, check the pumpkins with a fork. Continue to check every 15 minutes until they are done.
- Shut off oven and open the door slightly. Let stand until cool enough to handle.
- Remove skins and cut into chunks. Process pumpkin in a food processor until smooth. Note: Smoking can dry the pumpkin out. If your pumpkin puree is too dry, add a bit of water, orange juice or vodka until it has a smooth consistency.
- Preheat oven to 425°F.
- In a large bowl, combine the wet ingredients and stir. Add the spices and mix thoroughly.
- Pour the pie mix into the prepared pie shells. Cover the edges of the crust with foil or a pie crust shield and bake for 15 minutes.
- Reduce the heat to 350°F and continue baking for another 35-40 minutes. Pies are done when an inserted knife comes out clean.