'Better Than Pumpkin' Pie Filling (aka Butternut Squash Pie Filling)

Just LOOK at the picture above. My pastry is golden and tastes really good (I use this crust recipe by Ina Garten - it's terrific) but my crusts are almost always a little raggedy. I've long accepted the fact that I will never make a perfect-looking, beautifully braided pie crust, and I'm totally fine with that because, isn't it often the case - the most perfect-looking things usually have zero flavour

In that way I guess, pies are kind of like people.

Some are sweet, some are savoury. Some are tough, some are soft and flaky. Some are overflowing with warm gooeyness, some are near-empty shells. I could go on but I think you probably get the picture.

And so, my pie crust is golden, crusty, and uneven. Inside it is just the right amount of sweet, creamy, warm, spicy filling. It's also a little cracked on top.

My pie is a perfect-looking reflection of me.

Butternut Squash Pie Filling (and yes, I really do think it's better than pumpkin)

1 medium-sized butternut squash

2 eggs

1/2 C sugar

2 Tbsp flour

1 tsp each of pumpkin pie spice and ground cinnamon

1/4 tsp kosher salt

1/4 C heavy cream

1 Tbsp vanilla

- prepare and pre-bake your favourite pie crust - as I mentioned above, I use this recipe by Ina Garten

- preheat oven to 350ΒΊ - pierce skin of squash all over with a fork or the tip of a small paring knife - place the squash in the microwave and cook for 6 minutes - the pierced spots will weep a bit of water - that's totally normal - carefully remove the squash from the microwave (it may be hot to the touch) - line a baking sheet with parchment paper - cut the squash into 4 segments - place segments on the baking sheet, skin side up, and bake for 1 hour - remove from oven and cool slightly until you can comfortably touch with your hands - scoop stringy guts and seeds out of squash and discard - peel skin away and discard (most should peel right off but you may need to use a small sharp knife to coax some of it off - place all peeled squash into a large bowl or your food processor

- if using a large bowl, mash the squash until smooth - if using a food processor, pulse the squash until smooth - add eggs, sugar, flour, spices, kosher salt, heavy cream and vanilla to squash - mix by hand or pulse in processor to combine - pour the filling into your pre-baked pie crust and bake 20-25 minutes*

*I baked my pie for 30 minutes. Apparently, this is why mine cracked a bit - when the eggs are overcooked in a pie filling, it causes cracking - next time I will check my pie at 20 minutes and then keep my eye on it - the filling is thick so it's a bit hard to tell when it's set. At 20 minutes, eggs should be pretty much cooked and safe to eat so use your judgement.