Look what I found at Pete and Jen’s Backyard Birds:
Laaaaaaaaaard. Because Pete and Jen don’t just raise birds, they also raise pigs in pristine Concord (as well as sheep, rabbits, and, potentially, a cow). I think they should change their name to Pete and Jen’s Backyard Birds And Other Animals. They’re really nice people over there behind Verrill Farm, but, more importantly, they have lard.
Lard gets a bad rap. It’s a terrible-sounding word from a phonetic standpoint. It’s almost always used in a derogatory way (e.g., lard-ass). Sure, it’s possible that there may be a correlation between eating large quantities of lard and an ever-expanding derrière, but that can be said of lots of things. I don’t think we need to single out lard unfairly. And while the idea of pig fat may be less than appealing in a theoretical sense, practically speaking, there’s no more delicious way to make sure all the parts of the animal are put to good use. I mean, you like bacon, don’t you? That’s something like 75% pig fat, if you’re lucky. You can’t love bacon and hate lard. It’s physically impossible.
So, now that we’re being open-minded about lard, let’s put some in a pie! A pie crust, to be exact. Why are we back to heaving so soon? You know how great apples and pork go together. Here, lard just provides extra richness and a delicate flakiness to the crust. It’s not like the pie is going to have a giant pork chop in the middle of it or anything. I don’t think. I mean, no, of course it’s not. God, Tammy, show some restraint.
Dough made with lard handles very differently than dough made with butter. The mixture is sandier, requires less water, and is softer and easier to work with. It’s a good dough for novice pie-makers.
I always form any leftover dough scraps into little jam-filled tarts so I have something to distract me away from cutting into the larger pie before company arrives. Would you look at the flakiness?!
Just look at it!!! (Calm down, Tammy. You’re making a scene!) This is why pie crusts made with lard are so awesome. You can’t buy this in a box.
Here’s the pie.
Sorry, there was no time for even cursory styling as there was a chicken stew to be made. Here’s what was going on in the other three feet of counter space to the left.
Raw chicken and pie. Two worlds that must never collide. Unless, of course, we’re talking about chicken pot pie. Drooooooool. Need more lard!
Apple Pie for the Pork Lover
Or, if I have failed to convince you losers, the crust can be made with butter instead. You’ll need 12 tablespoons of unsalted butter plus several more tablespoons of water.
2 cups flour
¾ cup lard
1 Tbsp. sugar
1 tsp. salt
8 Tbsp. ice water (you may need slightly more or slightly less depending on the humidity, phase of the moon, your emotional state, etc., etc.)
6-7 tart apples, like Cortland, Northern Spy, Macoun, or whatever, peeled, cored, sliced ¼-inch thick
¾ cup sugar
1 tsp. cinnamon
¼ tsp. nutmeg (preferably freshly grated)
1 egg, beaten
For the crust, mix flour, sugar, and salt in food processor. Add spoonfuls of lard and pulse in 1-second beats until you have little chunks the size of small peas (around 12-15 pulses). Be careful not to process it into oblivion. If the dough gets too uniform, I suspect some flakiness will be lost in the final product. Dump mixture into a large bowl and add ice water, a few tablespoons at a time, fluffing with a fork until gently absorbed. The dough should just hold together when you press on it. Don’t knead it or it will become too tough. Tear off two pieces of plastic wrap. Dump a little over half of the dough mixture in the middle of one, and the rest on the other. Flatten the mixture into disks about an inch thick, then wrap them up, and refrigerate at least a half hour until ready to use.
Preheat oven to 425°F. In a small bowl, mix sugar, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Add all but 1 Tbsp. to the sliced apples and mix. Set aside.
Flour your counter and rolling pin well. The dough shouldn’t stick at all. Take the larger disk and roll it out about ¼-inch thick, about a foot in diameter. Roll from the middle out in all directions. Don’t grind the dough down into the counter—push it out to the sides. If the dough sticks, sprinkle more flour. Transfer to a 9-inch pie dish by lifting the edge of the dough over the top of the rolling pin. Gently lift and push until the dough is draped over the rolling pin (a bench scraper or even a spatula under the dough really helps). Align over pie plate and gently unfurl. Make sure it’s centered, then brush bottom of dough with beaten egg (this seems to help keep the crust from getting too soggy).
Pour in the apples. Roll out the second crust the same way, only slightly smaller. Drape over fruit. Fold edges of top crust over edges of bottom crust and crimp. Cut steam vents on top with a sharp paring knife. Brush dough with beaten egg and sprinkle with reserved sugar mixture. Place pie plate on baking sheet and bake for 20 minutes. Reduce heat to 375°F and bake until bubbly and crust is golden brown, 20-30 minutes more. Let cool until warm. Serve with vanilla bean ice cream.