Recipes: A Pioneer Thanksgiving

Nature Interpreters Luke and Will battled it out with these recipes during our Pioneer Thanksgiving Cook-Off, but now it’s your turn to try out pioneer cooking. Celebrate Thanksgiving frontier-style with one of these pioneer recipes! If you try one, snap a pic and send it to us via email – we’d love to see it!

Cheshire Pork Pie

Cheshire Pork Pie


  • 2, 9-inch frozen pie shells
  • 1 small pork tenderloin, about 1 1/2 pounds, trimmed of fat
  • 2 Granny Smith apples
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 3 tablespoons cold, unsalted butter, divided
  • 1 cup dry white wine (Vermouth also works well)
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg, divided
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt, divided
  • 1 egg
  • Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Fill a large bowl with cold water and add 1 tablespoon lemon juice. Peel and core the apples and slice them into 1/3-inch rings, placing the rings in water as you go, to prevent discoloration.

Melt 2 tablespoons butter over medium heat in a large skillet, preferably cast iron. Add sliced apples in a single layer and let them brown for 2 minutes per side. Use a spatula to gently transfer apples to a plate. Pour the wine into the skillet and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Let the wine bubble for 2–3 minutes, scraping the bottom of the skillet with a rubber spatula or wooden spoon to release any bits of cooked apple, until the wine has reduced by half. Pour the wine into a heat-proof cup and set aside.

Arrange half the pork slices in the bottom of the crust. Season with 1/2 teaspoon of salt, 1/4 teaspoon of nutmeg and a few grinds of pepper. Arrange all of the apple slices on top of the pork. Sprinkle evenly with sugar. Arrange the rest of the pork over the apples and season with the remaining 1/2 teaspoon of salt, 1/4 teaspoon of nutmeg and a few grinds of pepper. Chop up the remaining tablespoon of butter and scatter it over the pork. Pour the reduced wine evenly over the pie.

Cover the pie and trim the excess. Use the tines of a fork to press and seal the edges of the crusts together. If you want to decorate your pie, roll out excess dough and cut out leaves or any shapes you like. Whisk the egg with a teaspoon of water. Brush the top of the pie with egg wash. Place decorations on and brush them with a little egg wash. Cook pie in the middle of the oven for 45 minutes, until the crust is lightly browned. Let the pie stand for 5–10 minutes before slicing.

Onion Pie

Onion Pie


  • 2 pie shells
  • 1 pound of white, sweet onions, finely sliced
  • 2 extra-large eggs
  • 1 2/3 cups of half-and-half
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 pinch salt
  • 1 pinch pepper
  • Approximately 1/3 cup of chopped and cooked meat (bacon, ham or sausage)

Pre-heat oven to 425 degrees.

Sauté the onions in butter or margarine until clear. Pour off any excess liquid. Fry the meat of your choice. Drain and set aside.

Beat eggs with an egg beater. Add half-and-half. Beat into egg mixture until thoroughly mixed. Sprinkle sugar on top. Add salt and pepper to taste. Beat mixture again.

Sprinkle meat divided evenly on the bottom of the pie crust. Put the sautéed onions equally on top of the meat. Cover with egg mixture.

Lay second crust on the top of the pie. Pinch all around. Trim off the excess. With the tines of a fork, make three air vents in the top crust. Onion pie can also be served without a top crust.

Once your oven reaches 425 degrees, bake pies for 10 minutes. Immediately open the oven door and let the temperature drop to 325 degrees. Close the door and continue cooking 20–30 minutes. After 20 minutes, insert a knife blade into one of the vent holes. If the knife comes out clean, remove the pies from the oven. If the knife has egg mixture on it, bake the pies longer, until the knife comes out clean.

Red Pickled Eggs

Red Pickled Eggs


  • 12 eggs
  • 1 small beet (or 1 can sliced beets)
  • 1 cup white vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon red pepper
  • 1 cup water

Put the eggs in a heavy 1 1/2-quart saucepan. Add enough cold water to cover the eggs. Bring the water to a boil, turn down the heat, cover and simmer the eggs for 17 minutes. Drain, cool and peel the eggs.

Wash the beet. Cut off the top and part of the stem, leaving one inch of stem. Set aside.

Combine vinegar, salt, black pepper, red pepper and one cup water. Bring to a boil.

Put the peeled eggs and the beet in a 1-quart glass jar. Pour the boiling vinegar mixture over them. Let cool. Stir gently.

Cover the jar and refrigerate overnight or up to two weeks for a more intense pickled flavor.

In the morning, the eggs will be pink. Remove the beet. The eggs will be ready to eat.

Steamed Pumpkin Pudding

Steamed Pumpkin Pudding with Cream


  • 6 tablespoons butter
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 3/4 cup cooked pumpkin, mashed (Can substitute with canned pumpkin)
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk

In a large bowl, cream the butter and sugar together until light. Beat in the eggs.

In a separate bowl, combine the flour, salt, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger and nutmeg. Mix the dry ingredients with the pumpkin and buttermilk.

Add the combination into the creamed mixture. Spoon the mixture in a greased and floured ring mold. Cover tightly with foil.

Bake at 350 degrees for one hour. Let stand for 10 minutes. Unmold.

Serve with a drizzle of heavy cream layered over the top or serve with whipped cream.