Sunday, June 20, 2010
Happy Father's Day and a Suggestion about Lard and Vodka
After many years of hiding behind my cobbler recipe, I have lately made a new attempt to master pie dough, having discovered that two ingredients, lard and vodka, make a huge difference in the quality of my pies. You may think I am promoting lard because I have almost 10 pounds of it in my freezer, and of course I am motivated by this fact. But in my efforts to discover uses for my lard, I have indeed found that it gives pie dough incredibly rich flavor and flakiness. The vodka is a Cook's Illustrated trick that really works. Vodka adds extra moisture, making the dough easier to mix and roll than dough made with water alone. This is important since too much handling will develop the gluten in the flour, making the crust tough instead of tender. In the oven, the vodka evaporates. There is no trace of it in the finished pie.
Since lard and vodka somehow make sense on Father's Day, I used my lard and vodka pie dough to make my most successful blueberry pie to date for our dinner tonight. Something (maybe my Jewish heritage) is holding me back from making an all-lard dough, so I followed this recipe, using 10 tablespoons of butter and 10 tablespoons of lard, skipping the vegetable shortening altogether.