Sunday, November 15, 2009

Ruth Reichl's Sweet Potato Pie

Mmmm, MMM! Sweet potato pie!

I still remember, clear as day, my first experience with sweet potato pie. My mom, brother, and I moved from a small town in Minnesota, to Sacramento California when I was six. When I was seven, we moved into a house next door to an older lady named Mrs. Mosley. Mrs. Mosley was a really sweet woman, who's house was always buzzing with activity. There seemed to be no end to the number of people she had in her family, who would often come by to visit. She also always seemed to have something cooking on the stove, or baking in the oven, to feed the crowds.

One day while I was at her house, she sliced me a piece of her sweet potato pie, and watched closely as I took my first bite. I looked at her, excited, and said "This tastes just like pumpkin pie!". Wrong. Apparently that is NOT how you respond to someone blessing you with your first taste of sweet potato pie. Needless to say, I won't go into the time her daughter made me some grits, and I exclaimed "This tastes just like Cream of Wheat!". I had a lot to learn...

I have to hand it to Mrs. Mosley, in the 22 years since that day, I still haven't had a sweet potato pie that could even hold a candle to hers.

Ruth Reichl was the Editor in Chief at Gourmet magazine for a number of years, until it's untimely and unfortunate end this month. She also happens to be one of my favorite writers. While reading her second memoir, Comfort Me With Apples, I came across this recipe for her sweet potato pie. I had just recently purchased a large box of sweet potatoes from Costco, & had everything else on hand, so I figured I would give the recipe a try. I was not disappointed!

As usual, the cast of characters:
-2 medium sweet potatoes
-1/2 stick of unsalted butter
-3/4 cup sugar
-3/4 cup whole milk
We drink fat free milk so I used 1/2 cup of half and half, and 1/4 cup fat free milk
-3 large eggs
-1t vanilla
-1/2t cinnamon
-1/4t nutmeg-the recipe calls for freshly grated, which I did not have
-1/4t salt
-1T dark rum
-1T all purpose flour
-1 9 inch pie crust
So shoot me, I use a store bought frozen pie crust! Pillsbury makes a great product and I have never been let down by it. If you are going to go store bought, make sure you get a good brand.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. The days are getting really chilly here, so baking sounds like a great idea. Need some visual proof of the cold weather? Well just take a look at her.

Diva with a capital D. She stayed put right there through out the baking process. Only moving to change which part of her body was nearest to the fire.
Cover a baking sheet with aluminum foil, and spray with non stick cooking spray. This makes clean up later so much easier.
Prick the sweet potatoes with a fork & roast them until they are tender. This will take about 1 hour and 15 mins, to 1.5 hours.
Take them out of the oven, and let them cool down to room temp.
Raise the oven temp to 400 degrees.
Place a shallow baking pan on bottom rack.
Scoop the flesh from the potatoes into a mixing bowl. Then mash with a fork or whisk until smooth.
Melt the butter in a small pan.
Then stir in the sugar.
Add the butter and sugar mixture to the potatoes.
Add the milk,
and whisk until smooth.
Now whisk in the vanilla,
dark rum,
and flour.
Whisk until completely combined.
Here's a tip I learned from the Food Network for filling pie shells:
Set the pie shell directly on the rack, or a sheet in the oven.
Then fill it. This saves you the precarious walk to the oven with a liquid filled pie shell. Which is always the time the cat decides she wants to attck my feet and/or the invisible zombies surrounding me.
Isn't that color beautiful?
Now bake the pie until the filling is just set. About 40-45 minutes.
Set the pie on a rack and let it cool completely.
I got a little to eager, and cut into the pie before it was cooled. Which made it not look as pretty as it could have, but it still tasted delicious!

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