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Facing my kitchen fail

I have conquered my one kitchen fail - pie crust.
Everyone loves my pies. Only a few know that my standard pie crust is the pre-made rolled-up kind. Since I am trying to eliminate as much processed food out of our diets, I figured it was time to face my nemesis, the home-made pie crust.
Of course, I had to research it. I scoured cookbooks and the Internet, and decided the secret to flaky, tender crusts was lard.
Of course, I had to make my own lard. So, I bought pork fat at the West Side Market, and rendered it down all day. Result - a jar of pure white animal fat goodness.
1-NoCrisco
Then, the experiment. I went with a 50-50 proportion of butter and lard, and used the same method that Julia Child and Altn Brown use - the food processor.
2-Half Lard,Half Butter
It's incredibly easy to just pulse the dry ingredients, add your fats, and pulse til it's pea sized.
3-Pea Size
Add your ice water, pulse some more, and it's crust! No pastry blender, fingers, or two knives, no chance for mixing too much - I can't believe I was stumped by this problem when the solution has been in my kitchen since the 80s.
4-Pouring Ice Water
The only old-fashioned thing left in the pie crust making was rolling out the dough. Eh, so there's still one pain-in-the-ass step.
5-BottomCrust
Filled with apples and spices, the pie went into the oven, and came out looking perfect.
6-A Is For Apple
The crust was indeed tender and flaky, with a subtle savory bacony touch that worked perfectly with the Melrose apples. Husband and grandson both declared it my best pie ever.
7-Slice
Now if I could just get the husband to stop asking me to make another pie for him...



crossposted to my journal

Comments

( 11 comments — Leave a comment )
mongorules
Feb. 15th, 2011 10:50 pm (UTC)
Thanks for posting that- it looks divine!So flaky and good- I need to start rolling pie dough!
marence
Feb. 16th, 2011 03:06 pm (UTC)
Thanks. The rolling was the hardest part!
(Deleted comment)
marence
Feb. 16th, 2011 03:09 pm (UTC)
You sound like my daughter, and I'll repeat what I always tell her: "Anyone who cooks like that can bake , too, if you only follow directions!"
Yeah, I'm a mom down to my socks.
acelightning
Feb. 16th, 2011 06:40 am (UTC)
You don't have to render your own lard. I don't even know any place I could get pork fat; I just buy the stuff in a box. (There isn't always a lot of turnover in lard in supermarkets, and the package doesn't bear an expiration date or say "keep refrigerated". I once sent my husband out to buy a box of lard, and what he came back with was hopelessly stale and rancid. Now I always give each box the sniff test before I buy it.) But lard really is the secret for pie crust like your grandmother wishes she used to make. There's just something about the reaction between flour and pigfat that creates a texture nothing else can match. Butter makes it taste better (although there's something to be said for the elusive down-home flavor of lard), but lard creates a better texture, so your compromise of using some of each is a good one. Do try an all-lard crust, though, especially for a savory pie.
marence
Feb. 16th, 2011 03:13 pm (UTC)
I have promised the husband a meat pie with all-lard crust. When I finally do that, I'll post an update.

I decided not to go with supermarket lard due to terrible reports from food bloggers about rancidity and staleness. And I am lucky enough to have one of America's best markets down the road, giving me at least 3 different stalls to choose from for fresh pig fat.
acelightning
Feb. 16th, 2011 05:32 pm (UTC)
I wish I knew where I could get fresh pork fat - they certainly don't sell it in Stop'N'Shop :-(

You can use beef suet the same way as lard in a pie crust. True mincemeat pies (that contain actual chopped beef, along with dried/candied fruits, spices, and liquor) are best made with a suet crust. But you don't have to be fanatical about matching types of meat!

I highly recommend Rose Levy Beranbaum's Pie And Pastry Bible. She has recipes for lard, suet, butter, and shortening crusts, and too many kinds of pies and tarts to mention - including meat pies and other savory pastries. I got it as a wintergift, and I'm still working my way through the recipes ;-)
tori04
Feb. 16th, 2011 06:48 am (UTC)
Big thumbs up on making your own lard. That is definitely the way to go. I am glad you've defeated your nemesis.
marence
Feb. 16th, 2011 03:14 pm (UTC)
Thanks, I have a tendency to take the longest hardest ways sometimes, just to prove a point (to myself, my family, the universe...)
(Deleted comment)
marence
Feb. 16th, 2011 03:15 pm (UTC)
Nice icon!
( 11 comments — Leave a comment )

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