Butternut squash is one of my favorite fall foods. I buy whole squashes at the last farmers markets, and when I see pre-cut pieces in the store, I buy those up too. I make pasta sauces and quick soups, I roast and mash. Get creative and go simple.
I generally find myself with a surfeit of squash as I tend to get a little over-excited when they are in season. As I write this, I see there are three large squashes on my counter, and I know there is some leftover soup in the refrigerator.
Though butternut has its own unique flavor, I frequently use it interchangeably with pumpkin and even sweet potato, so I wondered how it would work in a pie, would it just be the same as standard pumpkin or sweet potato, or would there be a difference? And a little bit to my surprise, there is a quite a difference. Butternut squash is earthier, sweet, but with a rougher edge.
I worked with my basic recipe and added woodsy, warm spices that really highlight the unique flavor of the butternut, particularly aromatic clove. This pie turns out a beautiful dark umber color, rich from the spices and squash. A dollop of whipped cream, flavored but not overly sweetened with grassy sorghum is a perfect accompaniment. Serve this at Thanksgiving, or any autumn meal. I promise, your guests will be surprised and intrigued – and pleased.
For the pie
pastry for one 9-inch pie, homemade or store bought ready-to-roll
1 1/2-pound butternut squash
1 cup light brown sugar
1/3 cup heavy whipping cream
1 tablespoon bourbon [editors note: may substitute 1 teaspoon vanilla extract]
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
For the sorghum whipped cream
Makes 1/2 cup
1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
1 tablespoon sorghum [editors note: may substitute molasses or honey]
For the pie
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Place a piece of foil on the rack of the oven (to catch drips) and place the butternut squash on top. Roast the squash for 45 minutes to an hour, until it is completely soft when you squeeze it (wearing an oven mitt of course). Remove the squash from the oven, and holding it with a folded tea towel, cut it in half.
Scoop out the seeds and fibers and discard, then scrape the flesh into a wire mesh strainer set over a bowl. Make sure there is no skin attached. Using a spatula, press the flesh through the strainer completely. There are no solids left behind. This will give you a smooth purée perfect for pie. Leave to cool.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
Fit the pie crust into a 9-inch pie plate, trimming the edges as necessary. Line the crust with waxed paper and fill with beans or pie weights and blind bake the crust for 10 minutes until partially cooked. Remove the paper and weights and set aside to cool.
Beat the eggs and sugar together with a whisk. Add the cooled squash purée, the heavy cream, the bourbon and the spices. Beat until everything is thoroughly combined and smooth. Scrape the filling into the pie shell and bake for 50 – 55 minutes, until the center is set with just a little wobble to it.
Shield the edges of the pie crust to prevent overbrowning about halfway through the cooking. Cool the pie completely, then cover with plastic wrap and chill for several hours or overnight.
Serve chilled with a dollop of sorghum whipped cream.
For the whipped cream
Pour the sorghum and the cream into a small bowl. Using a hand mixer, beat the cream to stiff peaks form. Serve immediately.