Tomorrow is Thanksgiving and G. and I will have a dinner for two. I’ve simplified the menu (and the cooking!) to having two turkey thighs roasted over chestnut dressing, green beans, parsnips with maple syrup and popovers. Not making gravy or mashed potatoes this year. BUT, I decided to make a pumpkin cheesecake pie for dessert, dressed with freshly whipped cream when served.
Traditionally, I start roasting and shelling chestnuts at the beginning of November, stockpiling them in the freezer to use in the stuffing. This year, for some reason, I didn’t see any chestnuts for sale anywhere! And the line was always too long for me to go to Trader Joe’s where they usually had Italian chestnuts on sale during this time of year.
So, I ordered a large of peeled, roasted chestnuts from Ardeche, France. I’ll stir them in with the shallots, butter and celery for the dressing, adding Pepperidge Farm herb stuffing, chicken broth, Bell’s Seasoning (a new box!) and fresh parsley. Lots of salt and pepper and moist enough to bake in the oven underneath the rack on which the turkey thighs will be roasting. I already rinsed them in cold water, dried them and brined them with salt and pepper on Monday, leaving them uncovered for a day and then with plastic wrap so the skin will be crisp when roasted, the drippings will fall into the chestnut stuffing underneath.
As for the pie, I made it this morning to space out the cooking effort, using a Pepperidge Farm pie crust, rolling it out so it would fit my large pie plate. I sprayed it with PAM first, laid out the crust, crimping the edge and filled it with ceramic pie beads on top of parchment paper after pricking the crust with a fork. I baked it for about 25 minutes in a 375 degree oven. While the crust was baking, I used a mixer and beat together 8 oz. of Philadelphia cream cheese with a cup of sugar (1/2 white; 1/2 brown) until the cream cheese was smooth. Beat in 2 extra large eggs, vanilla and a 15 oz. can of pumpkin puree, a dollop of molasses, a large teaspoon each of cinnamon, nutmeg and ground ginger and 1/2 teaspoon of salt. Added 1/2 cup of heavy cream and blended the pumpkin mixture together. Poured it into the waiting par-baked crust and slid it into the oven for 45 min. Turned out it needed a little longer because the center was still jiggly. Left it in for another 10 minutes, then turned off the oven; opened the door and let the pie sit in the oven for 10 more minutes.
After it cooled completely, I covered the pie with plastic wrap and set it on the lowest shelf of the fridge to set until we eat it tomorrow night.
Happy Thanksgiving to all – and to all the patience to weather this extraordinary time, count our blessings and appreciate those who are near and dear to us.