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Simply put, I love food. I revel in everything about it: taste, texture, preparation, presentation, etc. The most favored aspect for me is the social aspect of food…learning to cook from one’s mother, preparing food with friends, grilling out, potlucks, dinner parties or simply meeting for dinner. I light up watching the people I love eat the food that I create. It still truly amazes me how food brings us together. So a little about me. Now in my early 30s, I’ve learned all I know about cooking from my mother and grandmothers. My Midwestern roots are definitely reflected in my cooking style and the recipes that I choose as I am very “meat and potatoes” centric and heavy handed with the butter sometimes. More later, but for now Happy Nomming!

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Sweet Potato Pie with Bacon Crust & Pecan Topping

So I've already starting 'practice' cooking for Thanksgiving.  I seriously think my addiction to baking may be getting out of control considering my annual Turkey Day usually consists of about 10-12 family members and a minimum of three pies.  I've typically shown up with some sort of chocolate dessert for this occasion.  I've never understood why more chocolate desserts aren't on the table for this holiday?  Chocolate is so good and, let's be honest, should be a part of every meal and probably the food pyramid or food scale or food rhombus or whatever version of food geometry the FDA is imposing on us these days.

A dose a fall smacked me in the face this week and sweet potato pie just sounded like a good idea. But then again, when doesn't pie seem like a good idea?

The Crust!

1 slightly heaping cup of all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
6 Tablespoons cold butter
2 Tablespoons of chilled bacon grease
~ 3 Tablespoons ice water

In your handy dandy food processor, mix together flour and salt.  Cube and add butter, pulsing about a half dozen times to cut it in.  Repeat with delicious bacon grease.  Slowly add water 1 Tablespoon at a time until dough comes together.  There's a fine line between perfect and a sticky mess here so pay attention!  You may not need all 3 Tablespoons as indicated above.  Once dough forms a ball, press into a disk with waxed paper and refrigerate for 30 minutes or more.

The Innards

2 cups peeled, cooked & mashed sweet potatoes
1 cup sugar
4 Tablespoons melted butter
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla (I make my own.  Someday I will post that recipe.)
1 cup milk (I use 1/2 cup heavy cream + 1/2 cup 1% milk)

1/3 cup of brown sugar

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

In your electric mixer (or use a hand mixer),  mix together all of the innard ingredients except the milk and mix thoroughly. Add milk and stir to combine.  Set aside.

Roll out your pie crust on a floured surface to the appropriate size.  *The fats in this crust will soften the more you handle them, and you'll quickly have a gooey, sticky mess if you fuss with it too much. With that, the easiest way to roll it out is under a piece of waxed or parchment paper.

After you get your crust rolled, situated and appropriately scalloped (I don't do this, it's too much trouble) into a beautiful masterpiece in your pie plate, use a fork to prick holes all over the bottom of that thing so that it doesn't bubble up while baking. 

Sprinkle brown sugar all over the bottom of the crust.  Pour the filling into the pie crust and bake for 40-50 minutes, or until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean.  If your crust edges start to brown too quickly, tent with foil. 

Cool on a rack for about an hour and then move to the fridge to cool completely.

The Toppin

2 Tablespoons of melted butter
1/3 cup brown sugar
3/4 cup coarsely chopped pecans

Melt butter in a small saucepan. Add sugar & pecans and mixed until incorporated.  You can add a tablespoon of heavy cream here, if you'd like but it's not necessary. 

Feel free to top cooled pie after the toppin's have cooled off a bit or serve this nut mixture on the side, since some crazy people (my father, for instance) don't like nuts in their baked goods.

And there ya have have it.

Now go forth and add a little bacon to your favorite Thanksgiving classic!

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