Around the Island

Off the Fork: A different Thanksgiving, but pie is always on the menu

Thanksgiving at my house will be the same as every year in one way only. There will be turkey.

Missing will be the crack team of side-dish cookers, and the army of eaters. Missing also will be the SWAT team that descends on the kitchen to clear away the rubble as the cooks lie exhausted on the couch. 

We’ll do all that again next year. This year I’ll comfort my podmates (a man and a dog) with a rich and flaky turkey pot pie.

My preferred method for a flaky piecrust is to tip a barely-mixed glob of flour, butter, egg yolks, and milk onto the counter, gather it into a hill, and mash the heel of my hand down through the dough.

Then I shape it into two one-inch thick disks, wrap them tightly in plastic and refrigerate them for at least two hours, before rolling and baking.

The result is dough with streaks of smashed butter sandwiched between layers of flour. Once it’s rolled out and baked, the resulting crust is delicate and buttery, and very flaky. It’s a terrific top crust for a savory pot pie and just as delicious as the base for sweet pies such as these two traditional Thanksgiving treats, Onion Raisin Pie and Apple Pie. 

Rich and flaky pie crust

Adapted from Joanne Chang’s recipe, “Pastry Love,” 2019

Makes two 9-inch piecrusts, or enough for a 10-inch apple pie and lattice top.

1 and ¾cup unbleached all-purpose flour

1 tablespoon sugar

1 teaspoon salt

1 cup (2 sticks) cold, unsalted butter, cut into 12 pieces

2 egg yolks

3 tablespoons cold milk

1. Mix the flour, sugar, and salt in the bowl of a stand-mixer.

2. Add the 12 pieces of butter all at once, and use the paddle attachment to slowly combine until the mixture just holds together when you grab a handful. There will be visible lumps of butter.

3. Mix the yolks and milk and add all at once to the butter/flour mixture. Mix very briefly, just until it comes together into a shaggy mess.

4. Dump the mixture out onto the table and gather it into a tight mound. Using the palm of your hand, smear the dough from the top down the side of the mound to the table piece by piece, until the butter chunks are smeared into the dough, and the whole thing comes together. Press the dough into two flattened disks about 8 inches in diameter and an inch thick, and cover tightly in plastic wrap.

5. Refrigerate for at least two hours.

6. Roll each dough package out into a 10-inch circle, to line a 9-inch pie pan, or to drape over the top of your pot pie.

7. If you are going to blind bake the crust, refrigerate it in the pie pan for at least 30 minutes.

8. To blind bake, line the crust with a coffee filter or parchment, held down with dried beans or pie weights. Bake for 30 minutes at 350 degrees, until the edges are pale brown.

9. Remove the crust from the oven, and remove the pie weights and coffee filter.

Turkey Pot Pie

8 servings

1 cup sliced shallot

1 cup sliced carrots

2 garlic cloves, crushed and
coarsely chopped.

2 cups broccoli rabe trimmed and very coarsely chopped

2 tablespoons olive oil

3 cups roasted turkey

3 tablespoons butter

4 tablespoons flour

2 cups chicken or turkey stock

1 cup heavy cream

1 9-inch unbaked pie crust

1 egg mixed with ½ teaspoon of water to make an egg wash

1. Heat the oven to 400 degrees. Toss the shallots, carrots, garlic and broccoli rabe in the olive oil, and roast on parchment or foil in a sheet pan for 20 minutes until tender, stirring once.

2. Cut or tear the roasted turkey meat into bite-sized pieces. Mix the turkey and vegetables together in a large bowl.

3. Melt the butter in a saucepan until it is foamy, add the flour stirring until it is thick and bubbly, about 2 minutes. Add the stock, and stir over medium high heat until it cooks down – about 3 minutes. Reduce the heat, add the cream and continue stirring until the mixture thickens again. Add a pinch of salt and four grinds of pepper.

4. Combine the cream mixture with the turkey and vegetables. Scrape into a 10-inch diameter deep dish pie plate.

5. Roll pie crust to a 10.5-inch circle, using short, fast strokes, and working from the middle of the circle out to the edges. Drape the pastry over the rolling pin, and use it to transfer the dough to the top of the pie pan, draping the pastry over the top of the dish, and sealing the edges with your fingers. 

6. Brush the pie with the egg/water mix, cut four slits in the crust to allow steam to escape, and place the pie pan on a sheet pan.

7. Bake at 400 degrees for 20 minutes, lower the temperature to 375 degrees and bake for another 25 minutes, until the pie crust is golden, and the contents are steaming up through the vents in the crust. Let the pie sit for 10 minutes before serving it.

Onion Raisin Pie

8 servings

One 9-inch blind-baked piecrust

¼ cup butter

2 tablespoons vegetable oil

2 pounds of onions, peeled, halved and sliced.

¼ cup black raisins

¼ teaspoon of salt

Ground pepper

3 eggs

½ cup of sour cream

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

2. Make an 9-inch piecrust and blind-bake until light brown.

3. Heat the oil and butter in a large skillet, add the onions, raisins, salt and pepper, and cook over low heat until the onions reduce in volume by at least half, and are soft and golden.

4. In a bowl, beat the eggs, and add the sour cream, beating until the mixture is smooth.

5. Spoon the mixture into the baked piecrust.

6. Scrape the onion mixture into the pie, place the pie on a sheet pan, and bake at 350 degrees until the egg mixture is set, about 15 minutes.

Apple Pie

8 servings

One 9-inch piecrust, plus another crust for the lattice top.

8 cups of peeled, cored and sliced apples, preferably a mixture of tart (Granny Smith) and sweet (Gala), crispy (Honeycrisp) and soft (Macoun) varieties.

¾ cup brown sugar

¼ cup flour

½ teaspoon of cinnamon

¼ teaspoon salt

An egg mixed with ½ teaspoon of water for a wash.

1. Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Roll one of the unbaked piecrusts into a 10-inch circle, line a 9-inch pie pan, leaving a ¼ inch lip of crust all around, and blind-bake until light brown, about 30 minutes.

2. Roll the second (unbaked) pie crust into a rectangle ¼ inch thick, and 11 inches long. Refrigerate it until ready to use.

3. While the crust is baking, combine the apples, sugar, flour, cinnamon, and salt. Mound it into the still warm, baked crust.

4. Cut the refrigerated dough into eight 11-inch strips.  Drape four strips parallel to each other across the pie. Drape the four remaining strips perpendicular to the first four to make a lattice top over the apples, and press the strips into the lip of the crust with your fingers.

5. Brush the lattice and crust with the egg wash. 

6. Place the pie on a sheet pan, and bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour and 30 minutes. The lattice will be golden brown and puffy, and the apples will soften and collapse. Remove from the oven and serve warm.