Don’t be alarmed, but I use lard in my pie crust — another culinary development inherited from my in-laws. Lard gets a bad reputation but it’s a beautiful fat that makes an incredibly flaky crust; of course, for those who don’t eat pork, it’s not an option, so feel free to substitute equal parts butter and vegetable shortening. The addition of the egg may alarm purists, but is great for crust newbies, as it makes the dough much easier to work with; it also helps create a sturdier crust, which is ideal when you have a very liquid filling.
I err on the side of less sweet with my pecan pie filling, so if you want a pie that’s more sugary, increase the brown sugar to 2/3 cup. As far as the other sweeteners are concerned, sorghum is my go-to because it’s old-fashioned and distinctly Southern — my Louisiana in-laws both remember harvesting sorghum and boiling the syrup growing up — but it has a rich, deep, molasses-y flavor that some people don’t love. In that case, substitute good-quality maple syrup for a lighter flavor.
*This recipe calls for a deep 9-inch pie pan.
2 cups all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon salt
½ cup lard (or ¼ cup butter & ¼ vegetable shortening)
1 teaspoon lemon juice or vinegar
2-4 T ice-cold water (start with the smaller amount & add more as needed)Preparation
Stir together flour and salt, then add the fat using your fingers or a pastry cutter. Cut the fat into the flour mixture until the largest pieces are pea-sized, but most of the mixture resembles coarse breadcrumbs. Beat the lemon juice/vinegar with the egg and cold water, then sprinkle over the flour mixture, blending lightly with a fork. Be patient, using your hands only at the end to bring the dough together. It will be crumbly and that’s okay — chilling will help it come together. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate at least an hour, or up to overnight. When you’re ready to make the pie, preheat your oven to 425°. Lightly flour your counter and roll the dough out into a circle large enough to fit your pie pan with a little overhang; gently lift the crust into your pan, crimping the edges to fit and patching any thin spots. (My son would like to add that any extra crust is delicious when brushed with melted butter, sprinkled with cinnamon & sugar, and baked!) To keep the bottom of the crust from puffing too much, line it with a round of parchment paper and cover the parchment with pie weights, pennies, or dried beans. Partially bake the crust at for 10 minutes. Allow to cool a bit before filling.Pecan filling: Ingredients
4 eggs, beaten
½ cup brown sugar
½ cup sorghum (or maple syrup)
3 tablespoons melted, unsalted butter
2 tablespoons flour
2 tablespoons bourbon
1 tablespoon molasses
2 -2 ½ cups pecan halvesPreparation
Turn the oven down to 350°. Whisk together all ingredients except pecans; fill the pie crust with the pecans, arranging them to look pretty or just dumping them in, depending on your style. Pour the liquid ingredients on top and bake for 35-40 minutes, until the filling is set. Wobbly is okay; liquid-looking isn’t. If your crust starts to brown before the filling sets, loosely cover the pie with foil to prevent over-browning. Serve warm with vanilla ice cream or lightly sweetened whipped cream.