First, we’d like to throw out a common misconception for pie eaters: When you buy pumpkin mash, that squash in the can is probably not the typical orange pumpkin you see everywhere on Halloween, which is a member, scientifically, of the pepo family. That also includes summer squash, acorn squash and zucchini. Instead, that bright, creamy orange flesh is a moschata squash, which — along with the equally pleasing, yet more well-known, butternut squash — includes the local Long Island cheese pumpkin.
A combo of gourd and dairy that grows in a garden would be awesome, but the cheese pumpkin’s only relation to cheese is its wide, cheese rind-like appearance. The exterior is a pale orange, but the interior is bright and pumpkiny. Cut open one of these squash, first cultivated on Long Island, and find smooth, dense meat, perfect for baking, roasting, stewing, or turning into custard. And, of course, pie.
As per Ken Ettlinger of Long Island Seed Project, who was featured in Edible East End‘s Winter 2008 story Banking on Seeds, the Long Island cheese pumpkin tastes great in this four-step pie.
Long Island Cheese Pumpkin Pie
1. Prepare moschata squash (butternut types, neck pumpkin or cheese) either by oven roasting in a covered heavy pan with enough liquid to allow the squash to cook until soft without browning, or by allowing cubed squash to cook in a pot of water on top of the stove until tender (check with a fork). Allow the cooked squash to completely drain and cool and purée in a food processor.
2. Add pumpkin pie spices. For every 2 cups of pureed squash add 1 ½ teaspoons of cinnamon,½ teaspoon of ginger, ¼ teaspoon cloves and ½ teaspoon of salt.
3. Since this is essentially a custard, add custard ingredients: 2 eggs, 1 can of evaporated milk (or 1 c. of whole milk or light cream) and ¾ cup sugar for every 2 cups of puréed squash. Blend completey to pour into a deep unbaked pie crust.
4. Bake in a preheated 350 degree oven for 45 minutes to an hour depending on your oven and the depth of your pie. Check for firmness toward the end of the baking time (you want a firm custard), but don’t let the pumpkin filling overcook or scorch.
Where To Find Them
• Halsey Farm (513 Deerfield Road, Water Mill): Pick one up for .50 cents a pound from 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.
• Fairview Farm (19 Horsemill Lane, Bridgehampton): U-pick or take a pre-selected pumpkin from their farm stand at .60 cents a pound. Hours: Mon & Thurs 2-6 p.m.; Fri 12-6 p.m.; Sat 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.; Sun 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.
• Harbes’ Mattituck Farm Market (715 Sound Avenue, Mattituck) for LI cheeses pre-picked at .99 cents a pound now through this Sunday from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.