So, finally, I'm getting around to blogging some In YOUR Kitchen segments. And, just in time for Thanksgiving! Today's kitchen in question is that of my friend Monique. Monique and I used to go to the same church before they moved to the burbs, and we still love to share book suggestions with each other, among other things. So, even though we're a "fur piece" apart in distance, we try to keep up with one another here and there and everywhere. So, of course, I poked and prodded my way into her kitchen - and I'll make my way to yours too, don't you worry - and she was kind enough to pretend she didn't mind at all.
Monique and her husband Evan have two beautiful children, Ellis and Merritt. Evan and Ellis went on a daddy-daughter weekend to the OU game, so Monique and Merritt had plenty of time on their hands to make us some sweet potato pie.
This is Merritt. He is 5 1/2. He used to be 5 a while back, but now he is 5 1/2, he informed me with great assurance. In case you were wondering. And pretty much the highlight of the cooking experience for him was turning on the mixer. Which I find pretty funny. He is a boy. And it is akin to a power tool, no? I quite remember my brother taking one look at my stand mixer and declared it one step short of a drill press. So, it only makes sense that would be the highlight for a 5 1/2 year old boy, too.
Monique chose to make sweet potato pie for us because it is a bit of a family tradition for her. She was telling me that Thanksgiving when she was growing up would yield something like 12 - twelve - 12 sweet potato pies. Both of her grandmothers would bring 3 or 4 and her dad used to make 4 or 5. So, you know, there was plenty to go around.
The thing is, when she started to make her own pies, she didn't think to ask them for the recipe. Nope. Instead, she opened up the Southern Living Cookbook and used that recipe. After a few years of good pies, but not just right pies to her palate, she asked her mom what was missing from the recipe. Her mama - not really the pie maker, but someone in the know - her mama took a pen right to that book and FIXED that pie recipe. So, now, even though it's in the Southern Living Cookbook, it's Monique's family recipe, edited down to the last detail.
She mentioned she doesn't use ginger, but rather NUTMEG, which to her estimation makes this pie more Midwestern than Southern. Because, as any Midwesterner will tell you, pie is really just an acceptable way to eat large quantities of nutmeg. Monique grew up in Texarkana, so while still very Southern, it hinges on just close enough to the Midwest that a tradition or two here or there might seep it's way in. There are a couple of other changes to that recipe from what's printed in the southern cooking bible, too, of course. And, to my estimation, having tasted the results, all those changes were just the way to go.
So here we go with the down and dirty. Monique uses frozen pie shells. You know I am right there with her. Many people think this sacrilege, and that truly you cannot be a good Christian woman without the ability to make the perfect pie crust from scratch. I am here to tell you this is either not true or Monique and I are living in sin. You pick. The truth is, these days, those frozen pie crusts are fine and dandy and there's no reason to work yourself in a lather over a pie crust. If you want to make your own, do that before you start on the filling. If you're making your own pie crusts, you probably already know that. If you're using pie crust ala Monique, take that baby out and thaw it out while you're making the filling. And, if you're really fancy like Monique, you'll put it in a pretty pie pan.
Procure two large sweet potatoes, or two pounds. Boil them until they can be mashed, or do what Monique does and nuke those babies until they are tender. Then, scoop out the innards into the mixer.
Monique's Sweet Potato Pie
2 pounds baked or boiled sweet potatoes (2 large)
¾ cup evaporated milk
¾ cup firmly packed brown sugar
2 large eggs
1 tablespoon butter or margarine, melted
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon vanillapastry for 9-inch pie
- Cut potatoes in half lengthwise, cook in boiling water to cover 30-45 minutes or until tender. Drain, cool and mash. Or, nuke those babies until tender and move on down the road.
- Process first 9 ingredients in mixer, stopping once to scrape down sides. Pour mixture into pastry shell.
- Bake at 400 degrees for 10 minutes. Reduce heat to 350 degrees and bake 15 minutes and then shield edges of crust with aluminum to prevent browning. Cook an additional 20 minutes or until a fork inserted in center comes out clean. Cover and store in refrigerator.