Thursday, May 28, 2020

Throwback Thursday: Humble Pie

It’s Throwback Thursday and I’ve got nothing. Except this old timey strawberry rhubarb pie I made:

My neighbor gave me some rhubarb that her mother grows here. Mom and step-dad are in their 80’s and departed for their home in St. George at the beginning of the Wuhan Cooties and haven’t returned since leaving stand after stand of beautiful crimson stalks untouched.

And when I  say “crimson stalks” I mean red, through and through:

bowl of chopped rhubarb Colorado Red rhubarb

It might be one of the old heirloom varieties of red rhubarb that, if grown correctly – proper soil pH, regularly divided, full sun – produces spectacularly, solidly red stems. It’s gorgeous stuff. I’ve honestly never seen a batch that wasn’t predominantly green in the middle regardless of the color of the outer stalk.

What Is Rhubarb? What to Know About the Superfood | Eat This Not That

I should mention that I love rhubarb, the way it retains it’s inherently tart character even when sugared generously – just like a lot of us. I wanted to do this handsome lot justice so I decided to use a recipe for strawberry rhubarb pie I saw in this month’s issue of Cooks Illustrated which required the cooking of the rhubarb along with some of the strawberries and sugar before putting it in the pie shell.

It also called for the use of instant tapioca as the thickening agent rather than cornstarch or flour. I subbed tapioca flour (1.5:1 instant tapioca) which I just happened to have on hand because I had picked some up at an Asian market awhile ago for who-knows-what and never used.

The point of the cooking step is to reduce the amount of liquid in the fruit before baking so your filling is not too runny. It took me much longer than the recipe indicated, like 3 times as long, to reach the recommended volume. The cooked portion is then added back to the remaining 3 cups of strawberries and dumped in the shell.

As you can see, it’s still plenty runny, hence the addition of the tapioca (in the cooking step).

After an hour in the oven at first 450 degrees, and then 375 degrees – it really is fussy for a pie recipe - I’m pleased to report that, despite the extra work and cleanup of the cooking step, my efforts were rewarded.

I was quite pleased with the still tart-sweet, gorgeous ruby red end product. As you can see it was still juicy enough to provide some delicious syrup to flavor the vanilla ice cream served up along side.

Here’s my secret, not-so-Throwback-Thursday part: I use Pillsbury pie shells. They are foolproof and better than any pie crust I could ever make. They should give me stock in the company for all the Pillsbury Dough Boy converts I’ve made.

Pillsbury Baking - Celebrate More with Pillsbury BakingA bow to the past, a nod to the present and hope for the future. No matter what, we will always have pie.