Cushaw Pie: A Southern Appalachian Tradition with Chantilly Cream

Cushaw Pie Recipe, Southern tradition Cushaw Pie recipe

Cushaw Pie – A Southern Appalachian Tradition

Similar to the pumpkin pie, Cushaw Pie is a Southern Appalachian tradition and is made with the Cushaw Squash. What in the world is a cushaw, you ask? Well, I know you’ve seen them, but perhaps you didn’t know they were edible. Let me tell you about them… 

This is a cushaw:

Cushaw Squash

Cushaw Squash

The cushaw is grown from an heirloom seed that is sometimes known as “Tennessee Sweet Potato.” It is a prolific when grown, is resistant to vine borers, and grows well in hot, dry climates. Since it’s not as popular as many of the winter squashes, such as Acorn or Butternut, you don’t see it as often in markets.

These winter squashes are often seen adorning lawns and porches during Autumn along with pumpkins and gourds, hay bales and scarecrows. While they are certainly beautiful in a Fall arrangement, they are edible and they make a fabulous pie.

Here in Townsend in the Autumn, the businesses gear up for the annual Fall Festival and Old Timer’s Day by decorating the outsides of their buildings with scenes like I described. So, when we first opened our shop, I decided I needed to do something a little bit different from the normal display (who’s surprised?).

I had a local welder build a cornucopia with rebar rings that graduated from five feet in diameter for the front ring and tapering down over ten feet in length to a curled up end; I then covered the frame with chicken wire. I took corn stalks and wired them to the chicken wire to form the “basket” of the cornucopia, then had hay bales and mums and pumpkins and cushaws spilling out the front. It was always a gorgeous display.

While many of the fall displays were the target of local kids on Halloween night who would smash the pumpkins, our display was never touched. That is, until the second year and every subsequent year we had the arrangement. The second year I assembled our array, I looked out the window of the store one day and noticed a car pull up. This wasn’t unusual since many people would stop to take photographs of the cornucopia. What was unusual was the darling little old couple who got out of their car, walked to the front of the display, and loaded their arms with cushaws. And drove away.

I was flabbergasted! But, I figured if they wanted the cushaws that much, they could just have them. I mentioned this oddity to a friend who told me, “Oh, they probably took them to make Cushaw Pie!” Knock me over with a feather! I had no idea they were edible!

So, every year after that, I bought extra cushaws for the display. I’d wait until the little old couple would rob the cornucopia of the cushaws, then I’d add more back to it. We had a nice deal going, I think. They never took the second batch. *wink*

Last month, my friend Donna hosted a gathering for a mutual friend who is ill; she decorated the pavilion where the event was held with pumpkins and gourds, hay bales, scarecrows and a single cushaw. I was the beneficiary of the cushaw at the end of the event (along with a white pumpkin which you’ll see in another post). So, I decided I needed to make a cushaw pie.

Cushaw get large, so the one Donna gave me had enough “meat” for three pies. When I seeded and peeled the cushaw, I cubed the meat, took enough for one pie, then I took the other cubes and put them in a single layer on a baking sheet and set that in the freezer for an hour. Once the cubes were frozen, I put them in freezer ziplocks and put them back in the freezer for later use. The light golden color of the meat is gorgeous and can be used in savory dishes, too. So don’t let any of it go to waste!

To prepare the pie, the cushaw cubes are boiled until tender, then drained and mashed. The mashed cushaw is then mixed with the rest of the pie ingredients and placed in a pie crust and baked. It’s as simple as that.

The pie itself is a very rich custard-style pie that is absolutely delicious. The flavour, while being similar to pumpkin pie, is lighter, milder, creamier and more subtle than pumpkin. So, if you have a cushaw sitting on your porch or lawn as part of your Fall decorations, make this pie! Cushaw can also be found in many farmer’s markets and occasionally at chain grocery stores with the gourds.

If you’re looking for something special to add to your holiday menu, find a cushaw and make this pie. You just won’t believe the difference between cushaw and pumpkin.

P~

p.s.: I took the scraps of pie crust dough I had remaining and used small Autumn leaf cutters to make garnishes for the pie. I placed them on a piece of foil, sprinkled on some turbinado sugar and baked them for about 15 minutes along side the pie.

5.0 from 4 reviews
Cushaw Pie
 
Similar to pumpkin pie, cushaw pie has a lighter, creamier texture and a more subtle flavour.
Author:
Ingredients
  • Single pie crust recipe for a 9" deep dish pie pan
  • 2½ cups cushaw cubes from seeded, peeled squash, boiled until tender but not mushy, drained and mashed
  • ½ cup brown sugar
  • ¼ cup granulated sugar (I used organic)
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon ground nutmeg (fresh grated is best)
  • 8 tablespoons butter
  • ¼ cup heavy cream
  • 4 large eggs
  • 4 tablespoons all-purpose flour
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 375° F.
  2. Place the cooked cushaw in the bowl of a mixer or food processor.
  3. Add all the other ingredients and mix until well combined and smooth.
  4. Pour the mixture into a prepared pie crust.
  5. Place the pie into the oven and bake for 35-50 minutes, or until the custard is not quite set (it will still be jiggly in the middle and will fully set as it cools).
  6. You may need to put foil, or a pie crust shield over the crust at about 30 minutes to keep it from browning too much.
  7. When the custard is set (a toothpick inserted in the center should come out clean, or lightly touch the top to test for firmness), remove the pie from the oven and cool completely on a wire rack.
  8. Serve with your favourite whipped topping. I have provided a recipe for Chantilly Cream below.

 
5.0 from 4 reviews
Chantilly Cream
 
Sweetened, whipped, heavy cream makes for the perfect dessert topping.
Author:
Recipe type: Dessert Topping
Serves: 2¼ cups
Ingredients
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
Instructions
  1. Place heavy cream, vanilla, and sugar in the bowl of a mixer fitted with the whisk attachment and beat until soft peaks begin to form.
  2. Cover and refrigerate until serving.

 

About P ~ The Saucy Southerner

I started cooking when I was ten years old. For me, the process of cooking, from inception of a dish, to the execution, to the washing of the pots is sheer delight. I am now retired from a business I still own, in partnership with my husband. I used to work six days a week and still cook every night. Now, I'm gardening, still cooking, always having fun and hoping to share my joy with you. Thank you for reading...and commenting! P~
This entry was posted in Baking, Desserts, Holiday Cooking, Southern, Sweet Pies. Bookmark the permalink.

14 Responses to Cushaw Pie: A Southern Appalachian Tradition with Chantilly Cream

  1. I love pie! and this looks so interesting. 🙂 I know you said it’s better than pumpkin pie – I’ll have to try it out!!

    • P~ says:

      I may be biased, since pumpkin pie was never a favourite of mine, given my ginger allergy. That said, the texture is SOOOOOO nice, and it’s just so subtle in flavour, too. I hope you do try it, Addie. P~

  2. rocky says:

    Just made this recipe. I didn’t notice the deep 9 inch pie part. I used one regular pie crust and had enough to make another. Baked mine for 40 mins but probly should have went longer. Toothpick came out clean but still seems a little wet?

  3. rocky says:

    Yea, I did the toothpick thing. That was right after baking but next day, they went over well at thanksgiving dinner. Not a complaint from my family. Thanks for the recipe. The taste got better after sitting.

  4. eskielover says:

    I had my first cushaw pie last fall & fell in love with it……I’m a So Calif born & raised for 53 years until I moved to KY 7 years ago, leaving a bad marriage of 33 years. I had no idea what a cushaw was or even what they looked like….it was baked in a pie..LOL. I didn’t go right out & try to find one either….however just before Christmas & had one given to me along with a huge bag of butternut squash. I actually just got around to fixing all the squash. I’m turning into a gormet Southern baker as just last fall I got into harvesting the wild persimmons & making persimmon pudding & the most wonderful cookies. So now is my time to experiment with the Cushaw. I probably got about 6 cups of pulp mashed up squash from this Cushaw. used chunks to just make a casserole which sprinkles cinnamon, nutmeg, brown sugar & unsalted butter on each piece then smothered it in heavy cream….baked it for 1 hour covered with foil then uncovered for 10 more minutes…….COMFORT FOOD big time. So today, I used the wonderful potato ricer that I just bought for mashing my persimmons next year (got it after I had harvested all the trees).

    I had baked the Cushaw yesterday, started my mashing early this morning. Had to cook some in the microwave a bit more to make it soft enough to rice…..but actually didn’t loose any of the squash. Being lazy, I’m using already made crusts & they aren’t deep dish so I set aside 2 2 cup containers, tossed a cup into the butternut squash soup I have cooking in my slow cooker & now I decided to look for the PERFECT Cushaw pie recipe……this one looks perfect. I have a native KY friend & told her about making the pies later today……she said that Cushaw is her favorite also…..so I will be taking one of my pies to share with them. Moving to KY was the best thing that ever happened in my life…..I have learned so many NEW & wonderful foods (still haven’t acquired a taste for “sweet tea”….but can tolerate it if it’s not too sweet). Thank you for sharing the information on the Cushaw’s….always glad to learn more about them.

    I wonder if I dump the seeds out at the edge of my woods if they will end up growing into plants that will produce any cushaw’s (or butternut’s)….know they are heirloom seeds wondering it that makes the internal seeds of the squash infertal?……we will see???? I have been craving Cushaw pie since the one I had a piece of last fall at our Bible study pot luck. It snowed yesterday, so today it a good day to stay in & make some yummy comfort food to enjoy.

  5. Sarah says:

    I LOVE Cushaw Pie! Great looking recipe.
    Sarah

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