When Bob and I were dating back in 1986, I invited him over to my parent’s house for a home-cooked Thanksgiving meal. Little did he know, having only known me for around four months, that I liked to experiment with bizarre menus, especially at holiday times. So I planned a Chinese-themed dinner for that particular Thanksgiving. My sister remembers my homemade eggrolls fell apart in the pot I was using as a deep-fryer. The dish that sticks out in Bob’s mind, however, was some sort of cold, mustard-sauced noodles—they were probably good, but he, of course, was hoping for something more traditional. I have never lived that day down; it has become one of those stories he likes to tell people around November, as Turkey Day approaches. I’m sure his co-workers heard about my Chinese Thanksgiving every year and had a good laugh about it…
Even after that fiasco, he married me anyway. Later, I figured I was free to experiment with recipes pretty much any other time of the year, but Thanksgiving is sort of a sacred day to him. For a few years, I always roasted a whole bird, then there would be the turkey frame soup and other leftover items afterwards. Then I got sick of messing with so much meat and all the dark meat and the bones, so I switched to boneless breasts of turkey. Two of those usually feed whoever is around here lately, with some leftovers (people usually don’t eat vast quantities of turkey in my family, so I can now get away with cooking this relatively small amount of turkey). Other than that, we have pretty traditional stuff. I have even considered abandoning making mashed potatoes, since you can get fairly good ones already made. I have given up making sweet potatoes, because my older daughter has displayed great talent in that area (yes, Chloë, this is now your responsibility, mwahaha…).
But here is a flavor-packed pumpkin pie for you from the Dwarves Chapter of my book Cooking for Halflings and Monsters. This is for people (like myself) who think pumpkin pie is boring. So I jazzed it up and now it is a particularly delicious fall dessert, especially at a holiday such as Thanksgiving—make it the night before, then you can cross one thing off of your list.
Pumpkin Streusel Pie for Randgríᵭ
- 1½ cups plus ¼ cup all-purpose flour
- ½ teaspoon plus ½ teaspoon salt
- 3 ounces cold lard, cut into ¼” bits (vegetable shortening is fine)
- 5-7 tablespoons iced water
- 1 tablespoon cinnamon
- 2 teaspoons ground ginger
- ½ teaspoon ground cloves
- ½ teaspoon allspice
- ½ teaspoon nutmeg
- 2 tablespoons salted butter
- 2 tablespoons plus ½ cup sugar
- 6 ounces pecan halves
- 15 ounce can pumpkin (1½ cups)
- 3 extra large eggs
- ½ cup heavy cream
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 2/3 cup old-fashioned oats
- ½ cup packed golden brown sugar
- ¼ cup soft salted butter
In a large bowl, combine the 1½ cups flour and ½ teaspoon salt. Add the lard and combine. Add the water in tablespoons, mixing until the dough is incorporated thoroughly. Flatten dough into a disk and place in a covered container. Refrigerate 30-60 minutes.
For the spice mix: in a small bowl, combine the remaining ½ teaspoon salt, cinnamon, ginger, cloves, allspice, and nutmeg and set aside.
In a medium skillet, melt the 2 tablespoons butter over medium/high heat. Add the 2 tablespoons sugar, 1 teaspoon spice mix, and the pecans. Sauté 2-3 minutes, stirring frequently. Set aside to cool for a few minutes, then chop the nuts coarsely and set aside.
Preheat oven to 375°. On a floured surface, roll out the pie crust to about 13″ and lay in a 9½” glass pie dish. Trim and fold over the edge; crimp decoratively. Cut decorations from scraps, if desired.
In a large bowl, whisk together the pumpkin, eggs, cream, ½ cup sugar, vanilla, and 1 tablespoon of the spice mix. Then mix in half of the reserved nut mixture. Pour into the prepared pie crust and bake for 25 minutes.
Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, combine the oats, ¼ cup flour, brown sugar, the remaining spice mix, and the remaining nut mixture. Add the soft butter and combine well with your hands. Sprinkle all over the pie to cover all of the pumpkin. Place decorations on top of streusel, if desired. Bake another 25 minutes. Cool on rack at least 2 hours before cutting. Serve with whipped cream. Cover and store at room temperature or refrigerate. Serves 6-8.