I've been stingy with recipes lately, storehousing them for The Book (due date: 7 months and counting), but here's one that I'm taking public straight away since I developed it yesterday in a public forum.
I was back at Surfas for a fall canning demo, and as always there was a great turnout. (And as always I want to thank John Pitblado for inviting me and the wonderful Lavender for making things go so smoothly.) The loose theme of the day was Thanksgiving Prep, so we made a batch of CHUNKY CRANBERRY JAM using cranberries I'd brought back from Plymouth, Massachusetts. Then we did something I've wanted to do for ages: work up a recipe for PUMPKIN BUTTER.
The basic idea for pumpkin butter is simple—reduce the pureed flesh with a little sugar—but I wanted input on flavorings. Time for audience participation! In collaboration with the (vocal and opinionated) group, I came up with three options: 1) pumpkin butter with lemon, honey and brandy; 2) with smoked paprika and red pepper flakes; 3) with a Moroccan spice blend. The results showed how flexible sweet preserves can be.
Number 1 would make for a sophisticated hors d'oeuvres if served with double-creme cheese on toasted walnut-raisin bread. Number 2 would be delicious on the dinner plate with roast pork or chicken and sauteed bitter greens. Number 3 is dessert: I'd serve it with, say, bread pudding (or maybe just a warm canelé) and creme fraiche.
The Surfas audience lined up to taste all three and render their judgement. The overwhelming favorite was #2, and the recipe is below.
Please don't use your leftover Jack-o-Lantern. I'd suggest instead one of the French pumpkins such as Musque de Provence, ABOVE, which is commonly called a "Fairytale" pumpkin, or the related "Cinderella" pumpkin, Rouge Vif d'Etampes.
Also please note that PUMPKINS DO NOT HAVE SUFFICIENT ACIDITY TO CAN SAFELY USING THE BOILING-WATER BATH. Accordingly, please store this fresh preserve in the fridge and consume within two weeks, or else freeze in an air-tight container.
FRESH PUMPKIN BUTTER
half of a Fairytale or Cinderella pumpkin—a 5 to 6 pound chunk when raw
2 cups water
organic or Demarra sugar
smoked Pimentón or Espelette paprika, or smoked red New Mexico chile powder
red pepper flakes, especially the mild but flavorful Turkish Marash or Aleppo chili flakes
1 Scrape out the pumpkin's seeds with the edge of a tablepoon, then cut the halved fruit into one-inch wide strips (following the natural vertical folds). Poel each strip with a quick turn of the vegetable peeler. Cube the flesh. Place in a kettle with 2 cups water and simmer for 20 minutes until very soft.
2 Run the cooked pulp through a food mill or chinois (you could also use a potato masher if you don't mind a chunkier butter.) Measure the puree, note the quantity and put it in a preserving pan. For every 3 cups of pumpkin, add 1 cup of sugar. (Or less to taste, or add a tablespoon of molasses for a stronger flavor, or replace some of the sugar with half as much honey.) Stir well to dissolve the sugar, and reduce the mixture over high heat until sufficiently thickened, at which point a dollop of the butter put a cold plate for 60 seconds will no longer leak liquid at the edges.
3 At the end of cooking, stir in a fat pinch of smoked paprika, 2 pinches of red pepper flakes and a pinch of salt. Taste and adjust the seasonings to preference.
4 Before storing, allow the hot butter to cool somewhat, then ladle it into airtight containers to freeze or any covered container to refrigerate. Use within a week or freeze for up to several months.
Yields about about 2 pints