Recipe: Make pumpkin hand pies for a savory treat

If you’ve been by Rockin’ S Farms booth at the Woodstock Farmers Market, or stopped by the farm in the Free Home community of Cherokee County, you’ve seen more varieties of pumpkin than perhaps you knew existed. And the pumpkin show didn’t stop just because Halloween has come and gone.

Tim Stewart of Rockin’ S Farms likes growing pumpkins: Jack o’ Lantern pumpkins both big and little, peanut pumpkins (the variety called ‘Galeux d’Eysine’ with its distinctive peanut-like growths all over the skin), Cinderella pumpkins (‘Rouge vif D’Etampes’) that look they like would make perfect tiny coaches for a princess, the North Georgia Candy Roaster (an heirloom variety), white pumpkins, green pumpkins, and plenty of orange pumpkins. 

His favorite? The ‘Musquee de Provence’ that he calls “cow patty pumpkin” for its resemblance to you know what. “Each lobe is so heavy you can make a pie from just one. My wife Nichelle likes the Jarrahdale. It’s gray-green and a good keeper.”

The Stewarts like to bake a lobe of pumpkin like a potato and top it with butter, honey or sugar. Or serve the pumpkin wedges with some roasted apple.

Pumpkins are good keepers so you don’t have to deal with them right away. Enjoy them for their decorative qualities but then be sure to enjoy them for their eating qualities as well. “When you get them home, let them cure a little bit. The more they cure, the sweeter they get. Keep them on a porch, out of direct sun and you can keep them for a long, long time.”

Hand Pies with Chili-Roasted Pumpkin and Herbed Ricotta

Baker Brett Self of Bistro2Go in Macon has a deft hand with pastry and a love of seasonal flavors. We met him at the Peachtree City Farmers Market where he travels each Saturday.

While Self’s recipe might look a little daunting, it’s all make-ahead friendly and full of pastry chef tips like keeping everything really cold when working with the dough. To make this ahead, make the pastry and then refrigerate for up to three days. Roast the pumpkin and refrigerate it for up to one day.

Like most bakers, Self is particular about his ingredients. He uses small pie pumpkins for this recipe and recommends King Arthur flour because it’s unbleached and unbromated. And Plugra is his butter of choice.

4 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour

12 ounces (3/4 pound) European-style butter, cut into 1-inch cubes

2 1/4 teaspoons sea salt, divided

3/4 cup very cold water

1 1/2 pounds peeled fresh pumpkin, cut into 1/2-inch slices

1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil

1/4 teaspoon black pepper

5 tablespoons honey, divided

3/4 teaspoon chopped chipotle pepper in adobo

1/2 cup whole milk ricotta

1 egg yolk

1 1/2 teaspoons chopped Italian parsley

1 1/2 teaspoons chopped chives

1/4 teaspoon lemon zest

Salt and pepper to taste

1 egg, beaten (optional)

Sesame seeds, for garnish (optional)

Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.

In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine flour, butter and 2 teaspoons salt. Put bowl and contents in the freezer for at least an hour. Once everything is very cold, move the bowl to the stand mixer and fit the mixer with the flat paddle. Turn mixer to medium-low. Butter will begin to combine with flour. Stop when pieces of butter have reached the size of peas. Do not overmix. If the mixture isn’t cold, return it to the freezer for 30 minutes. Return bowl to mixer and sprinkle flour mixture with water. Turn mixer on low and mix until it forms a crumbly dough. Do not overmix. Move dough from mixer to prepared baking sheet and top with a second sheet of parchment. Use top sheet of parchment to press on the dough and form it into a 9-inch round. Cover dough round and refrigerate at least one hour, or overnight.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.

In a large bowl, combine pumpkin slices, olive oil, pepper and remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt. Move pumpkin to prepared baking sheet and roast 10 minutes. Keep mixing bowl at hand. Remove pumpkin from oven and return to mixing bowl. Add 3 tablespoons honey and chipotle pepper and toss to coat. Return pumpkin to baking sheet and roast 15 minutes or until pumpkin is tender. Once the pumpkin is cooked, remove from oven and allow to cool.

When ready to bake, line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.

In a medium bowl, combine ricotta, egg yolk, parsley, chives and lemon zest. Taste for seasoning. If you don’t want to taste raw egg yolk, sauté a spoonful filling and then taste. Set aside.

Remove dough from refrigerator and roll out to 1/8-inch thick. Cut 6-inch circles of pastry. Reroll scraps once and cut additional 6-inch circles. You should have about 11 circles. Divide the pumpkin between the circles, arranging the slices on the lower half of the circle. Top each with a tablespoon of ricotta mixture. Drizzle with remaining 2 tablespoons honey. Lightly brush edges of circle with water and fold pastry over the filling, pressing the edges together. Arrange on baking sheet. If you wish, brush the tops of the pastries with the beaten egg. Sprinkle with sesame seeds if you like. Move filled pies to the refrigerate and chill 1 hour.

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Bake pies 20 minutes or until golden brown, rotating once while baking. Remove from oven and allow to cool slightly before serving. Serve with additional honey, if desired. Makes: 11

Per pie: 496 calories (percent of calories from fat, 52), 8 grams protein, 51 grams carbohydrates, 2 grams fiber, 29 grams fat (17 grams saturated), 112 milligrams cholesterol, 660 milligrams sodium.

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