Q: Chef, with the holidays coming up and great food being made in kitchens all across Missouri, what is your favorite thing to cook for Thanksgiving? I have my favorite recipes that have been handed down from my grandmother. They bring back such great memories of cooking with her when I was young.

A: Wow! Where to start? Closing my eyes, I see my dad carving the turkey with his first electric knife to sweet potatoes cooking on the stove; as well as the sound of my grandmother’s voice as she places her good china onto the laced tablecloth to the smells of my mother’s cookies and pies baking in the oven. It’s a wonderful time of year that gives us all the opportunity to travel through time. So here, I share with you my favorite pie.

My Favorite (Pumpkin) Pie

For Pie Crust


3 c all-purpose flour

1 ½ c Crisco

1 egg

5 T cold water

1 T white vinegar

1 t salt


In a large bowl, with a pastry cutter, slowly cut the Crisco into the flour for about 3 or 4 minutes, until it begins to look coarse. In a small bowl, beat the egg with a fork and then pour it into the flour/shortening mixture. Add 5 tablespoons of cold water, 1 tablespoon of white vinegar and 1 teaspoon of salt, and gently combine until all of the ingredients are blended.

Separate the dough into thirds, forming three evenly sized balls of dough, and wrap in plastic. Put in freezer to chill for about 15 to 20 minutes.

Remove from freezer; and on a floured surface, roll the dough, starting at the center and working your way out (sprinkle some flour over top of the dough if it’s a bit too moist), rolling until it’s about ½ inch larger in diameter than your 10-inch pie pan. Gently press the dough against the corner of the pan. Go around the pie pan pinching and tucking the dough to make a clean edge.

For the Filling


¾ c granulated sugar

1 t ground cinnamon

½ t ground ginger

¼ t ground cloves

½ t salt

1 15-ounce can pumpkin puree

2 eggs

1 ½ c milk


Mix together sugar and the spices in a mixing bowl. Add the pumpkin puree until all is incorporated. In a separate bowl, blend the egg and milk together. Add to the puree mixture. Pour into pie shell, and bake at 325 degrees for 35 to 40 minutes.

Serving suggestion:

Serve with whipped cream and warm honey.

Chef John Johnson is executive chef at River City Casino. For questions or recipe requests, email him at John.Johnson@rivercity.com.

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