Looks like pumpkin pie, smells like pumpkin pie, but it's NOT your average, run of the mill pumpkin pie. What is it?
It's a Cushaw Squash Pie! The Cushaw (or Kershaw) Squash, sometimes called a Tennessee Sweet Potato, is an heirloom winter squash grown mostly in the southern United States. It's hardy, heat tolerant and resistant to squash borers, which makes it easier to grow without pesticides. If you're careful about where you grow it, the seeds can be saved from one year to the next, ensuring a steady supply of this versatile squash that can be used for both sweet and savory dishes.
Many southern cooks prefer the sweet yellow flesh of the Cushaw for making pumpkin pies. After tasting this pie that I made from a recipe found on Chickens in the Road I'm not surprised. The squash pie had the same warm spices as pumpkin pie, but had a milder taste and silky texture. Actually, you can use Cushaw squash in any recipe that calls for pumpkin. Next up for me? Probably Cushaw Butter, which I've heard is a family tradition in parts of Tennessee.
I really hope you're able to find one of these heirloom treasures at your local farmer's market. I'm saving the seeds from mine so I'll be sure to have more next year!
Prepare the Squash:
Preparing the squash is easy. Wash it, cut it in half, remove the seeds and stringy part, and bake it cut side down on a lightly greased baking sheet. (350 degrees for about an hour and fifteen minutes or until tender when pierced with a fork) After scooping out the baked flesh, mash it well or put through a Foley food mill. Proceed as you would with any other pumpkin recipe. (The seeds can be roasted like you would roast pumpkin seeds.)
Spiced Cushaw Pie
recipe adapted from Chickens in the Road
Your favorite pastry for a nine inch pie
2 cups prepared squash (or pumpkin)
2/3 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
3 large eggs, beaten
1 teaspoon vanilla
12 oz. can evaporated milk
1 Tablespoon melted butter
In a small bowl, mix together beaten eggs, evaporated milk and vanilla. In a large bowl, combine squash, melted butter, sugar, cinnamon, ginger, salt, nutmeg and cloves. Add milk mixture to squash mixture and mix until well combined. Pour into pie pan (9 inch) lined with an uncooked pastry shell . (Use your favorite pie crust recipe.) Bake at 375 degrees Fahrenheit (lower half of oven) for an hour, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. (Mine took a bit longer.) Chill and serve. Keep refrigerated.
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