Alinea, the famous culinary playground-slash-food-lab in Chicago that doesn’t like being called a restaurant, has created a whimsical autumnal dessert just in time for Thanksgiving that is soooo not something you would ever make at home: clear pumpkin pie.
According to its co-creator, chef de cuisine Simon Davies, it’s a distillation (the key to making it translucent) of pumpkin, cinnamon, ginger, and clove.
“Texture is very important to us,” says Davies. “This melts away. If it were over-gelled it would not be worth serving. The main texture that brings on nostalgia is from the pate brisee.” (Aka: pie dough.)
Davies created the clear pie with executive chef Mike Bagale as part of a 20 course tasting menu. Ingredients, according to Davies: Pumpkins from an organic farm 20 miles outside of Chicago, cinnamon, clove, ginger powder, All-Purpose flour, butter, water, heavy cream, Tahitian vanilla, sugar and salt.
For those naysayers who say Jell-O pie sounds like the most unappetizing thing on the Thanksgiving dinner table, including that weird aspic your grandma brought, Davies has this to say: “I think a lot of people misunderstand how to effectively use gelatin. It can be used in a way that results in a gel that is stable but melts away on the palate unlike the common ‘Jell-O’ that most people are used to.”
Traditional flavor meets modern creation. The best of both worlds.
Says Davies, “It fits into our menu in a playful way and allows our guests to experience something new. We by no means are trying to re-create a classic. It’s just our way of having some fun.”