I wanted to use my lard to make a pie crust. But I was hesitant to make a sweet pie, because Lord, what if that lard tasted like pork chops? I didn't want to sink my teeth into a cherry pork flavored pastry. So I settled on a savory application. And when I saw Onion Pie on Agrigril's blog, I knew that was my pork fat method of delivery.
I made the pie crust one evening when the kids got homemade mac and cheese because well, I hadn't made this pie crust at 5am that morning to have it ready to go, so the kids get a 10 minutes dinner. I made my ole' standby pie recipe, 1 1/3 cups of half white flour, 4 ounces of lard (I have been using butter for the past several years), a pinch of salt and 5-6 tablespoons of ice cold water. As you probably know already, mix the lard in with the flour until it resembles a coarse crumb. Then make a well in the center. Add the 5-6 tablespoons of ice cold water and mix the dough all together. The form a ball and then roll out into a circle shaped pie crust with a rolling pin. So many people told me that crusts made of lard were more flaky and tender. But they weren't kidding. This was my first time working with lard, so here is what I experienced. I had had the fat frozen and thawed in the refrigerator. Although the fat had been stored in the fridge for the last couple of days it came up to room temperature very quickly and my hands melted the fat quite easily. It did smell a little like there was a pork roast roasting down the hall. Nothing overwhelming, actually it was good. the crumb was very soft, whereas every time I use butter I still find little hard cold bits when I mix the flour and the butter. Because the dough was so soft I had to use less water, 5 tablespoons only whereas I have used as many as 7 with a butter crust. (Using so much water always made my mother start. Pie crusts were a big family trade in my house growing up, and my mother believe in less water for sure. But she used shortening, who knew back then?)
The lard melted very readily on my hands, but not like shortening does, if you have memories of that growing up. It seems like it took half the bottle of soap to wash shortening off my hands. Not this. The lard melted in a thin, kind of slippery layer on my hands. Washing it off was ridiculously easy. I feel like this has to be related to its goodness as a healthy unprocessed fat (OMG, did she just say that?).
The dough was so soft that I put it back in the fridge to cool down. I rolled it out after Thing 2 went to bed. Thing 1 stayed up to help. I rolled it out and put it (very gently) into my pie plate. I mixed up 5 eggs with some whole milk and heavy cream. I added salt and pepper to taste and about a cup of grated Gruyere cheese. Too bad that I didn't read the whole recipe about cooking the onions and the pie shell first. I tend to get excited about things and blow through the fine print. I just chopped the onions and placed them raw into the unbaked pie shell the same way I would do when I make a spinach and leek quiche. Anyway. I put the onions into the pie shell and poured the mix of egg and cream and cheese over the top. Then I baked that sucker for 45 minutes at 350 degrees. For all my mistakes (honest mistakes I promise), the pie came out amazingly.
And Don't forget to check out Food Renegade's Fight Back Fridays! I love to see what real food her readers are cooking.