Sunday, October 18, 2009

Apple Pie with Lard Crust

I've always felt pretty lucky to come from a family who appreciates food, and this week I've been even more incredibly blessed by having my mother out to visit and make me food (and do mountains of dishes) while I teach, take French exams, and organize mountains of baby clothes. I also kind of hate to admit it, but I feel lucky to live in New Jersey, at least in respect to incredible produce. These apples - Fujis, to be exact - are fresh from the trees at Wightman's Farms in Morristown. (Incidentally, if you've not been apple picking up a hill while in your third trimester, you've missed an experience.) What you don't see is the gigantic bag, full of 10 lbs of Stayman Winesaps and Golden Delicious destined for apple-sauce and -butter, sitting on a nearby chair. So when the confluence of two great things happens - my mother visiting and fantastic fresh apples - it seems only appropriate to make an apple pie using Mom's heirloom lard crust recipe.

I do like butter+shortening crusts too, but there's nothing like a lard crust for flakiness and tenderness. Try it, you'll like it; and don't worry about your arteries, because you're only eating a bit as long as you share the pie like you should, and besides, you know it would be good with a couple slices of bacon anyway. I find lard in the ShopRite in the ethnic foods section, because apparently it's too un-PC for the upscale grocery store in the "normal" food sections. For this pie I used whatever apples were left from last week's picking (Macoun, Cortland, maybe some Cameos... I don't know what was in there) and used America's Test Kitchen Family Cookbook for the actual pie filling recipe.

Grandma Elsie's Never-Fail Pie Crust

2 c. flour
3/4 c. lard
1 tsp. salt
1 beaten egg yolk
1/4 c. milk
1 Tbsp. sugar
1 Tbsp. lemon juice (Mom says vinegar works too)

Mix flour, lard, and salt until crumbly - a pastry cutter is good for this task. Make a well in the middle and put egg yolk into it, but do not mix into flour yet. Mix milk, sugar, and lemon juice in a small bowl and pour into the well. Quickly mix it all into the flour with a fork. Divide dough into two equal pieces and roll out on lightly floured surface. Makes enough for 1 double-crust or 2 single-crust pies.

Nota bene: Sometimes you may need more/less flour or more/less milk depending on your climate, etc. Yesterday the dough was a little wetter than usual due to the weather. Feel free to adjust as needed.

This pie probably would have been really good with something like meatloaf or fried chicken. We ate it after a cream of carrot soup (from this month's Bon Appetit), a simple risotto, and a butterflied stuffed pork tenderloin (from Jacques Pepin's More Fast Food my way).


  1. How do I post more than one photo without it looking stupid?

  2. I just updated the posting options so you should be able to drag the pictures to where you want them. Should... we'll see how it goes.

  3. Also, Eliese, I love this post. I've been longing for a good apple pie recipe. Sadly we do not have quite the selection of apples here in the desert, but I think I might manage. This might just beat out my favorite Bourbon Pumpkin Pie Cheesecake for Thanksgiving. Or perhaps we can have both...

  4. Alrighty, wish me luck in the search for lard!

  5. Eliese this is awesome. I have been making my crusts for several years now but only with butter. this seems much richer than mine. How do you get your crusts to crimp nicely? Mine always puff up too much!