There is no secret.
There are tricks, to be sure, but no reason to dread and fear preparing the home-made as some people say they do when confronted with the holiday task.
It’s all good.
You do need to have some proper fat. Lard is good, leaf lard better. Leaf lard is the delicate, magical stuff covering the pig’s kidneys. Sometimes you’ll be lucky enough to find it fresh and render it yourself, but it can also be ordered on line along with everything else in the world.
Alright, you don’t have leaf lard and you’re not going to bother ordering it. Perhaps you can’t even get the blocks of lard they sell in the supermarket.
Crisco will have to do. And butter, of course.
Combine 3 cups of flour with a little salt and a little sugar in a sturdy bowl. Get ahold of a pastry cutter. You do know what that is? If not, Google it.
Warm up a stick of butter to room temperature (or microwave, no shame in that, for 20 seconds). Chop it up into the flour. Add a third of a cup of leaf lard, or plain old lard, or Crisco, or more butter. Use the pastry cutter to mix it all up until it’s crumbly – neither pea-sized or like cornmeal, as some pundits like to say, but somewhere in the middle. It doesn’t really matter. Dump in a cup of cold tap water. Mush it all around with a fork until the cough somewhat holds together. Then stick it in the fridge for a while.
What to do while you wait? I thought I’d listen to some sentimental music, Carole King singing So Far Away. And think about what place mats to use tomorrow. Natural Woman. There you go.
If you haven’t yet, this is a good time to pick up your turkey. We get ours at Hemlock Hills Farm, where they have turkeys running around outside and living the good life until they get whacked.
Oh yes, the pie filling, got to have that.
I use a recipe for chocolate pecan pie my mother clipped for me.
Now, years ago I won a contest held in my community for a pretty fancy chocolate pecan pie, but after I told her about it my mother felt she would weigh in with a simpler version which was just as good, so that is what I use now.
Note: “just dump everything.” Excellent idea. What makes good pie is a shared recipe.
After a half hour or so, remove the dough from the fridge and roll it out on any clean floured surface you’ve got. And use anything you have to roll it with – a wine bottle will do. It doesn’t have to be perfect. Nothing in life has to be perfect. What you do is drape the circle of dough over the rolling pin and lay it off into the pie pan. You can fix the edges however you want. Pinching works, or pressing a fork all around the rim of the pan.
Et voila. Add your filling.
Bake and serve.
Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow? Throw in a little James Taylor for good measure.
Will you love me tomorrow? I think the answer is yes, if offered a pie.
I have heard there is no problem too large that pie can’t fix. And I happen to think that that corny truism applies equally to making pies and eating them. So make yourself happy this holiday season. Don’t sweat, don’t stress, and roll out some dough.