Saturday, October 27, 2007

The Dutch Oven Pumpkin Pie Adventure, Part I

About two or three weeks ago, we went to a Halloween party for parents of handicapped kids. One of the things we did there was decorate some cool small pumpkins. One of the parents and I got to talking, and I mentioned that it would be fun to make a Pumpkin Pie in my dutch oven. Of course, having my tendencies to make things more difficult for myself than normal, I wanted to make it from scratch. I mean, from a pumpkin, not from a can.

Since then, I’ve been talking about it to pretty much anyone that will listen. Anywhere. Anytime. I’ve been doing a lot of research online, finding the best recipes. I finally found what I think is a good composite recipe.

Today, I did the first step, baking the pumpkins and making the puree itself.

Now, to show you how dumb I am, I have to confess that I have NEVER made pumpkin pie before. Not in a dutch oven, not in a regular oven. Not from a can, not from a real pumpkin. Nothing. I have absolutely no idea what I’m doing. All I know, I’ve learned from the ‘net in the last two weeks.

And, we all know, that if you read it on the ‘net, it must be true, right?

I bought a couple of small pie pumpkins. My research showed me that you don’t want to make pie from the big Jack-o-Lantern pumpkins. The small ones are supposed to be sweeter and a little less stringy. I got the pumpkins, sliced them in quarters and arranged them in the bottom of my two 12” shallow dutch ovens, one full pumpkin in each oven. I poured about a half-cup of water in each. Then I sprinkled about a half cup of brown sugar “in the boat” of each pumpkin slice.

These I put on coals, with about 8-9 coals below, and 16 or so on top. I baked them for about an hour each, until I could stick them with a fork and have it push through very very easily. Here’s a hint that I’ll definitely do next time: Before I’d put on the sugar, I’d take a fork and poke lots of holes in the pumpkin flesh (on the inside, not the skin side). That way, when the brown sugar melts, it melts into the pumpkin, and not so much runs off. Also, I think I wouldn’t have so much water.

Now, while they were baking, I washed, separated, and dried the seeds. More with them later.

Once the pumpkins were squishy, I pulled them off the coals. I scooped them out of the skins and plopped them into a bow where I mushed and squashed and stirred them all up. I did pour in a little more of the sugar syrup from the bottom of one of the dutch ovens. Then I covered the bowl with plastic and put it in the fridge. I think that it will be way too much pumpkin. I might end up making a couple of pies. We’ll just have to see. Like I say, I have no idea what I’m doing.

More with that tomorrow.

The seeds, meantime, were dry. I put those in a bowl, with a few tablespoons of olive oil and some liberal shakes of seasoning salt, regular salt, and black pepper. I stirred that up, and then into the bottom of the (now clean and dry) 12” dutch oven. That went back out on top of about 16 or so still burning coals. Maybe more.

At first I just stirred it, but after a while, I could see that it needed to trap the heat better, so I put the lid back on and only stirred it about every 5 or 10 minutes. Once they got a darker brown, I pulled them off, and let them cool Tonight, I think my boys and I will watch a movie and munch and crunch!

And tomorrow after church? Pumpkin Pie!

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