Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Lard and Peaches

Today I decided that my fear of naturally hydrogenated animal fats was standing between me and the greatest pie crust of life.

I have been trying to find the ideal pie crust recipe for awhile now. I limited my pie crust experimentation to varying amounts of butter or vegetable shortening and different techniques, hoping to stumble on the perfect balance that would lead to a sublime crust--the search would be over.

After consulting James Beard's American Cookery and the new Gourmet cookbook, I settled on a recipe. Today was the day I would make a peach pie to be remembered. So I bought lard at the corner store (at $1.50 for a quart, a bargain) and brought it home. I opened it and took a deep sniff. It smelled like bacon fat. I was hit by a sudden moment of uncertainty which led to a last minute modification: half butter and half lard. Ok, I was cooking now.

Peeled peaches--and a simple crust strategy: flour, butter, lard, cold water, sugar and lemon juice. The dough smelled like roasted meat. It rolled out like a dream and baked to a lovely golden brown. The result? Pretty good, my friends. Flaky, with a rich butter flavor, not too meaty or weird. Not perfect, but I think I'm on to something. More experimentation to follow.

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