My dear, poor, non-French people,
The more I live in the US, the more I’m amazed by how different and at the same time similar our cultures and minds are.
Take pumpkins for example. Simple, round, orange vegetables.
You guys turn them into horror masks…
While we (among which French and perfect author Charles Perrault) imagined they could turn into a wonderful carosse that could also turn a poor damzel in distress into a glamourous princess…
But we have this thing (among lots of others) in common:
The citrouille love.
L’amour du pumpkin…
I thank Christopher Columbus everyday for bringing it back to Europe !
My grand-father, who took every occasion he could to be negative and scornful as any good French man should, always said it was a « fit for lazy » vegetable : the kind you didn’t have to sweat and suffer to see it bloom in your garden…
But my grand-mother, who took every occasion to smile at him and do what she wanted anyway, as any good French woman should, loved to cook it…
And strangely enough, here again, our ways of seing pumpkin in a plate are totally different ;
My grand-mother’s pumpkin soup was sweet, when the American version is savoury.
And as much as I understand, Pumpkin pie here is a dessert … Whereas when I bake one, it’s a (salty) entree…
So here it is.
My Tarte au potiron
(savoury pumpkin pie)
1 pumpkin (a regular one, you need at least one pound of pumpkin)
7 oz lardons, or sliced bacon
1 cup chicken broth
1 tbsp ground nutmeg
1 pâte brisée
I know my family will laugh when they see this recipe, cause they will surely remember that the « tarte au potiron » joke was one of my favorite as a teenager.
I promise I’ll tell it to you in its entirety when we meet “for real”, although it might be the longest, lamest, stupidest joke you’ll ever hear (and it’s in French, aussi).
But the thing is, “potiron” and “citrouille” (who both mean pumpkin), are for me one of the funniest words in the culinary world. Just love the sound of it.
And look at it ! All round and orange and funny !
I discovered savoury pumpkin pie in a cooking book my brother bought me years ago.
The recipe was part of a great book of recipes inspired by Colette, the French and perfect author (famous for writing Gigi, but also for her great freedom of thinking and love of good food!). I’ve lost it when I moved out to LA, which is a sad thing, but also pushed me into trying to invent my own…
So here is how I make mine.
- Slice the onions, brown them in a pan with some olive oil
- Add the lardons, or the bacon cut into small fingers.
- Let them dance together, while you peel the pumpkin (and take the seeds out)
- Cut it into squares
- Add the pumpkin squares in the pan, and let them brown
- Salt, pepper, and Nutmeg
- Add a cup of broth, stir
- Put to a boil, and then let it simmer slowly for 30 minutes : the broth disappears, the pumpkin melts into the bacon
- Preheat the oven at 350°F
- Put the crust into the pie dish
- Mix the egg quickly with the pumpkin
- Pour into the crust
- Bake for 40 minutes
Et voilà !
This pie is as good hot or cold…
Now, if you really want to be French and perfect, have a bite, close your eyes, and think that the citrouille might turn you into a princess or a prince…
Here is a song by French, perfect, and very crazy Brigitte Fontaine, who pretends this song makes pumpkins turning into princess carriages…
Bon appétit les amis!