Mertie’s Mondays: Holiday Squash Pie

Squash pie Chez Hansen.

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I think I’ve mentioned that no one could touch my Mom when it came to pies. Apple, mince, squash pies were her favourites, and we had at least one of each every Thanksgiving and Christmas. As I write, it’s Thanksgiving Eve in the United States, although it’s only Wednesday evening here in London. I’m not having a turkey tomorrow, even though I will be giving thanks, in a quiet way, for another year coming to a close, for my husband, for my friends, and for everyone. Squash pie is a really good way of giving thanks.

Now I’m not going to give a recipe for the pie crust. I was very lazy; I used cold rolled piecrust from Tesco’s. It comes in a box like a wax paper box, and it’s rolled up inside like a scroll, with some waxed paper in between the layers. You just lay it in the pie plate and cut around the edge. It wasn’t quite big enough for a 9″ pie, so I took a bit of the cut-off edge and repaired the place where the edge of the roll just fell short of the edge of the plate. Then I crimped all around the pie with my thumbs. I shan’t apologise for my piecrust, as I don’t have enough counter space nor the right equipment, to roll out a full pie crust and the few times I’ve tried I’ve not been able to do it very well. This one came out just fine! My Mom would have understood, I’m certain.

Now squash pies are pretty controversial here in the UK. Nearly everyone I know who is a native Brit thinks that squash and pumpkin pies are terrible—they also hate root beer, among other American delicacies. However, the Guardian newspaper printed a squash pie recipe a few months ago so perhaps the British are slowly coming around. The recipe I’m about to give you can be used with butternut squash, pumpkin, or sweet potato. The rest of the ingredients are the same.

First, peel two medium butternut squash. Cut them into medium-size pieces, scoop out the seeds and discard, then boil in unsalted water until they’re tender. Drain, then mash and rice them. This will give you a smooth pie without lumps of squash in it. Take two cups of squash and, if there’s any left over, freeze it for later pies. In a bowl, beat three eggs well, then add to the eggs:

the squash
3/4 cup sugar or Splenda
1 tablespoon molasses (optional)
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
1 cup evaporated milk

Now if you want an adult pie, add

1/4 cup bourbon or Jack Daniels

Otherwise, add another 1/4 cup evaporated milk

The alcohol boils out of the bourbon during cooking so your pie will not intoxicate anyone[see footnote]. Leave that for the eggnog. However, the bourbon taste is quite pronounced, so if kids are going to be wanting a piece of squash pie, make one without the alcohol.

Stir until well combined. Now comes the most difficult part: getting the unbaked pie in the oven. The best thing to do is to put the pie shell on the oven shelf, which you’ve pulled out, and then pour the mixture into the pie shell right there and carefully push the pie into the oven, which you have preheated to 450 F/Gas Mark 8. Here’s what it will look like:

unbaked squash pie
Unbaked squash pie

Now leave it to bake for 15 minutes, then turn the heat down to 325 F/Gas Mark 3 and leave for around 45 minutes. At that point, open the oven and jiggle the pie a bit. If only the centre of the pie wobbles, it’s done. Take it out and cool it on a rack. Here’s what the finished pie looks like:

baked squash pie
Baked squash pie

Mine looks a bit more rustic than my Mom’s did. Hers was nicely deep tan in colour, with no bubbles or dark spots in it. I don’t know how she did that but it doesn’t matter. The taste is what counts. This pie has a firmer texture if refrigerated before eating. Even though it’s firm, it’s still a bit mushy until after it’s been refrigerated.

About 13 years ago, I was in an amateur dramatic production of Oklahoma!. As those of you who know the musical may remember, a sweet potato pie was part of the plot (a small part). Well, if I do say so myself, we all made a valiant effort, but failed to turn in a Royal Shakespeare Company level performance. We stank, actually.

I was a bit sad about this, so to cheer up the cast I made two Bourbon Sweet Potato Pies and contributed them to the cast party. They were an instant hit. Too bad that our production wasn’t.

I hope you will enjoy this pie as much as we do Chez Hansen & Tan.

Footnote: [Note from Serene: Not really. But if it’s your house, it’s your pie, and I say use bourbon if you want!]

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Author: Chris Hansen

Expat American living in London, now a British citizen as well. I was originally from Marblehead, Massachusetts, and that's where my mom raised me, so my momfood comes from New England.