Heavy rains the last couple of years mean demand for pumpkin has been greater than supply. And when demand surpasses supply, hoarding tends to follow. In fact the grocery store shelves near my homes in Pennsylvania and Connecticut were bare until October. And this year may not be much better. Irene destroyed the crops in upstate New York and and early cold snaps may have resulted in premature harvests in many pumpkin producing states.
So if you find the shelves bare this holiday, know that sweet potato is almost a dead ringer for pumpkin. No need to bake the sweet potatoes when you can microwave them to a fork-tender state in just ten minutes. Pureeing the sweet potato filling in a blender before pouring it into the pie shell guarantees a light silky texture and using bold spices and evaporated and condensed milks—both sweetener and dairy in one—result in a highly flavorful, substantial pie filling.
If you find plenty of pumpkin on the shelves, this sweet potato pie easily converts to pumpkin. Simply substitute a 15-ounce can of pumpkin for the two sweet potatoes. So whether it’s sweet potato or pumpkin this holiday, this is your go-to pie recipe.
Sweet Potato Pie
Makes 1 9-inch deep-dish pie
You can also make this pie with canned pumpkin substituting 1 can (15 ounces) pure pumpkin for the 2 cups of cooked sweet potatoes
1 pre-baked 9-inch pie shell
2 sweet potatoes (about 12 ounces each), pricked with a fork
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon allspice
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 can (14 ounces) canned condensed milk
1 cup evaporated milk
2 eggs plus 2 yolks
Whether you’re using homemade or boxed refrigerated dough, have pre-baked pie shell ready. Adjust oven rack to lower-middle position and heat oven to 300 degrees. Microwave sweet potatoes on high power until fork-tender, 9 to 10 minutes. When potatoes are cool enough to handle, peel them and mash flesh with a fork.
Along with ginger, cinnamon, allspice, and salt, add mashed sweet potatoes to a large saucepan and cook over medium-low heat, stirring constantly, until potato starts to stick to pan bottom, about 5 minutes. Add condensed and evaporated milks; cook until sputtery. Whir eggs and yolks in a blender. With blender running, add a cup or so of the hot pumpkin mixture, a large spoonful at a time, to temper eggs. Add remaining pumpkin mixture; continue to puree to form a silky texture filling.
Pour warm filling into warm pie shell. Bake until a thin-bladed knife inserted into the center of the filling comes out clean, 30 to 40 minutes. Let cool on a wire rack until warm or room temperature. Serve.