Halloween Pumpkin Pie

I not only make this with my leftover Jack O’Lantern from Hallowe’en, but I also try to get any whole pumpkins that were used for decoration at various places as well.

To prepare the pumpkin meat:

Cut open the pumpkin and clean out the seeds and all the stringy meat. If using a leftover jack o’lantern, cut away any rotten or burned meat. Don’t forget the flesh on the lid!

Place oven rack on the bottom level. Preheat oven to 300°F. Place whole pumpkin with lid in place on a baking sheet in the oven and bake for at least an hour, or until pumpkin begins to collapse. Remove and allow to cool to a workable temperature.

Scrape all flesh away from the skin and mash fine; use a ricer if you have one.

Put several cups of mashed meat into a cheesecloth, twist the cloth around the meat, and squeeze out excess moisture. Place into a zippered storage bag, pressing out all of the air before sealing overnight in the refrigerator. Measure out pumpkin meat for recipes the next day. I usually get enough meat for five to ten pies, depending on how large my jack o’lantern was. If you have more meat than needed for the number of pies you wish to make, store the measured amount for one pie in a quart-size zippered freezer bag, pressing the meat to about an inch thickness throughout the bag as you squeeze out the air before sealing and toss in the freezer. You will have fresh frozen meat for pumpkin pie through the holiday season!

Per 10″ graham cracker pie crust

1 1/2 cups pumpkin meat
3 medium (no larger) eggs
1 cup canned evaporated milk (not sweetened condensed)
1 cup light golden brown sugar
3/8 tsp. salt (I use kosher salt, but any is fine)
3/8 tsp. ground ginger
3/8 tsp. ground nutmeg
1 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon (I use a coffee grinder to grind a fresh stick of cinnamon)
1/4 tsp. ground cloves

Procedures: Preheat oven to 375°F

Evenly brush the sides, then the bottom of a prepared graham cracker pie crust (I use a store-bought one, have to cheat somewhere!) with one beaten egg yolk with a soft pastry brush. Bake crust for 5 minutes in preheated oven. (Put the leftover egg white plus any leftover egg yolk into the pumpkin pie filling, but do not count as part of the three eggs.) Remove and allow to cool while preparing the pie filling.

Firmly pack 1 1/2 cups pumpkin meat, pressing out and discarding any excess liquid while measuring.

Whip together three eggs plus leftover egg white and yolk from shell preparation. Add evaporated milk and pumpkin and mix together.

Combine sugar and spices together, then add to the pumpkin mixture. Puree as finely as possible either with a mixer or in batches in a blender.

Pour into the prepared graham cracker crust and bake on the center rack in preheated oven for 65 minutes. Test for doneness after an hour with a toothpick. You want the toothpick to be nearly clean when removed, but the top is not completely set as it will crack upon cooling.

Remove to a rack and allow to cool completely. Serve with homemade whipped cream if desired.

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