You may turn your nose up at canned vegetables, pasta and meat, and rightfully so — that stuff is gross. However when it comes to one particularly important piece of your Thanksgiving puzzle, the pumpkin pie, it may be wiser to reach for the can opener and not the huge pumpkin. Here's Ming Tsai with a great story illustrating why:
"I'm in Paris, I'm a pastry chef working with Pierre Gagnaire, who's a genius. I come in, normal day, 5:30 in the morning, and the chef is just swearing like crazy. He's got a gigantic copper pot going, cooking fresh pumpkin because he was commissioned to make 20 pumpkin pies for Thanksgiving at like, $80 a pie. If you've ever tried to cook fresh pumpkin, you can't do it. There's so much liquid that doesn't cook away, and he was calling it crazy and yelling at it.
So I said "Chef, I can get you pumpkin pureé from a can." He said, "Ca n'existe pas." I had access to the shop at the US Embassy two blocks away. I explained the dilemma and I came back with two cases of Libby's pumpkin pureé. I was the lowest of the 20 pastry cooks, and I was so proud of myself. I said "Here, Chef." He opens one up, tastes it and says "oh, pas mal." And he asked for the recipe. I said "It's on the back of the can." He used the Libby pumpkin recipe on the can with sweetened condensed milk and eggs and got his $80 per pie. But his crust was amazing."
So no, unless you want to be some kind of hero and invent a way to make pumpkin pie filling out of anything but the good stuff, which yes, comes in a can, you can't really make your own.
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