Pumpkin Cooking Tips

Chef Nick Malgieri says the key to cooking a perfect pumpkin pie is using the real stuff, and avoiding Jack-O-Lantern pumpkins.

To make better-tasting pumpkin pie, chef Nick Malgieri, who is hosting a pumpkin cooking class at Kings Cooking Studio on October 22,  suggests using real pumpkin instead of canned—and avoid large Jack-O-Lantern pumpkins. “The only pumpkin to use for pie is a sugar pumpkin, the flesh is dark orange and sweet,” he says. “Sugar pumpkins tend to be small, about 2 pounds, and are perfect for a pie or two.” Slice the pumpkin in half, scoop out the seeds and gooey fibers and cut the rest into chunks. Steam them in a little water on the stove or bake them in the oven. They’re done when the skin peels easily off the flesh. Kings Cooking Studio manager Randi Jeddis says a 5-pound pumpkin yields about 4.5 cups of cooked pumpkin.

But, don’t throw out the seeds! They are fun and easy to turn into a tasty snack. “First moisten the seeds with a teaspoon or two of egg white, rubbing the seeds between your palms to distribute the white evenly,” says Malgieri. “Then toss in whatever seasoning you like; it will adhere.” Salt or cinnamon-and-sugar are naturals. Or spice up the mix with grated Parmesan and fresh-ground black pepper.

“To prevent burning,” Malgieri advises, “bake the seeds at, say, 300 degrees for 40 minutes or so. That will crisp the seeds well.”

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