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Smoked Pumpkin Pie

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.

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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.

Actual Pie

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.

Smoked Pumpkin Pie
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
A pumpkin pie with a light smoky flavour, perfect for fall.
Author:
Recipe type: Dessert
Cuisine: American
Serves: 16
Ingredients
Smoked Pumpkin Puree
  • 2 pie pumpkins
Pumpkin Pie
  • 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)
Instructions
Smoked Pumpkin Puree
  1. Preheat smoker to 250°F and start apple or maple smoke.
  2. Preheat oven to 425°F.
  3. Split pumpkins vertically and remove seeds.
  4. Place pumpkins in smoker.
  5. Smoke for 20 minutes, then remove from smoker. (Pumpkin absorbs smoke like a sponge, so beware of leaving the pumpkins in for much longer.)
  6. Line two cookie sheets with foil and cover the bottom of the sheets with water.
  7. Place smoked pumpkins face-down on the foil and place in oven.
  8. Bake until soft. After 30 minutes, check the pumpkins with a fork. Continue to check every 15 minutes until they are done.
  9. Shut off oven and open the door slightly. Let stand until cool enough to handle.
  10. 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.
Pumpkin Pie
  1. Preheat oven to 425°F.
  2. In a large bowl, combine the wet ingredients and stir. Add the spices and mix thoroughly.
  3. 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.
  4. Reduce the heat to 350°F and continue baking for another 35-40 minutes. Pies are done when an inserted knife comes out clean.
Notes
Allow to cool completely before serving.

 

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Where there’s smoke…

My husband has taken up smoking again. Only this time, he smokes with woodchips and food.

After debating and researching and shopping around and hoarding Canadian Tire money for several years, we bought a Bradley 4-rack digital electric smoker about a month ago. My husband had wanted a smoker for quite a while, so this is now his new baby.

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Now I know that the purists are going to rabble here and say that the best smokers are charcoal, and that we’re settling for second best with an electric smoker. Yes, charcoal is better. If we had unlimited amounts of time to laze around waiting for charcoal to be ready to go, we’d have a charcoal smoker and a charcoal grill. However, we don’t have unlimited amounts of time, and I like eating dinner before 9pm. Therefore, we have a propane grill and an electric smoker.

The Bradley smoker that my husband ended up buying has a few features that are really nice. First, it’s digital, so setting the cooking temperature is a breeze. It will also maintain that temperature for as long as required without any babysitting. And it can be used to cold smoke things like cheese, which was a “nice to have” for my husband. (Cold smoking isn’t something that we’ll be trying in the middle of summer, but on a cool spring day it worked great.) Finally, the Bradley website has an active and friendly forum if you have questions or problems. (The forum members are also quite handy, and are willing to show off their hacks and homemade smokehouses. Lots of ideas there!)

On the downside, it takes proprietary “bisquettes” of wood for the smoke. These can be a bit pricey, since one bisquette will only burn for 20 minutes, but we’ve been keeping our eyes open for them and getting them when they’re on sale. Also, the cord is a bit short. This may present a problem if you lack convenient outdoor outlets. On that same thread, it is electric, so I wouldn’t consider it an all-weather smoker. Again, a smokehouse might be in our future when we redo the backyard.

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So far, he’s smoked cheese, tofu, a whole chicken, a pork tenderloin, and ribs. We were working up to the ribs, and boy – were they worth waiting for!

The baby back ribs were doused with the Sweet Chili rub from Bon Vivant and smoked with hickory at 275°F for two hours. We then wrapped the ribs in foil, and stuck them in the oven at 275°F for an hour. The packets were opened, the juices saved, and the ribs went back in the oven for one more hour. The reserved juices were then mopped onto the ribs, and they went under the broiler for about two minutes, just until the juices started bubbling.

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Wow! I’m not even sure what to tweak with this method, because the ribs came out so good. It helped that we started with a quality product from Frig’s, and the rub and the smoke added just the right amount of flavour to enhance, rather than cover up, the taste of the ribs.

I’m sure I’ll have more to say about our smokey adventures in the next while.

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