Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Pears Pie

I'm cooking again! 
I got my kitchen set up so I can start making real recipes with my fancy gadgets. I hope I haven't completely lost my touch. To try to get my inspiration back I've been watching Good Eats on Hulu. I used to enjoy watching it back when I lived in Atlanta 6 years ago when I had a real TV with cable. It's nice I can enjoy it now with nothing but my iMac.

Pear Pie 2009
Last year in Beachton I made Pear Pie. Meaning a pie containing just one pear. I picked it off my pear tree and I ate the pie all by myself. I used a frozen pie crust because my Cuisinart was boxed up in a mini-warehouse. It was a good looking pie and delicious. When I saw similar looking pears at the green market Saturday I bought them. I bet the ones back home probably just rotted on the tree. That makes me sad. 
Still Life After Marketing Oct 16, 2010

The following recipe for Pears Pie is based on Alton Brown's  Super Apple Pie recipe I watched on Hulu.  I copy/pasted the recipe here with my changes.

For the crust:
  • 6 ounces unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 2 ounces vegetable shortening, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 5 to 7 tablespoons applejack {I decided not to buy a $20 bottle of booze to make one pie. I just used 5 T ice water.}
  • 12 ounces all-purpose flour, approximately 2 3/4 cups, plus extra for dusting
  • 1 teaspoon table salt
  • 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
For the filling:

  • 3 to 3 1/2 pounds apples, mixture of Granny Smith, Honeycrisp, Braeburn and Golden Delicious, about 6 large apples {I used 6 crisp pears that they called Asian pears at the green market. I got a basket of them for $5. They weren't exactly the same as the apple pears I grow back home. Not as crisp. But they were not nearly as soft as a Bosc pear.  The skin is tough like the pears back home. They had a bit of a flavor note that reminded me of the smell of epoxy resin. This brings back fond memories of my uncle's boat shop so I didn't care. Let's eat 'em.} 
  • 1/2 cup sugar, divided
  • 3 tablespoons tapioca flour {I got regular Minute Tapioca in the pudding section at HEB, the grocery store nearby}
  • 2 tablespoons apple jelly {I used Guava jelly. I just thought it would be good with pears. Plus it was on sale.}
  • 1 tablespoon apple cider {I used Swedish pear soda. I had some cans of it I got at Ikea.}
  • 2 teaspoons freshly squeezed lime juice
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground grains of paradise {I used whole allspice, ground ginger and ground nutmeg from a brand new jar that cost half as much as whole nutmeg. My nutmeg grinder is in Beachton and I couldn't find one at the store.}

For the crust:
Place the butter, shortening and applejack into the refrigerator for 1 hour. {I portioned out the butter and Crisco in little pieces on a plate and put them in the refrigerator for about a day. It comes out to a stick and a half of butter and 4 tablespoons of Crisco. I got the kind that comes in fat sticks.}
In the bowl of a food processor, combine the flour, salt and sugar by pulsing 3 to 4 times. Add the butter and pulse 5 to 6 times until the texture looks mealy. Add the shortening and pulse another 3 to 4 times until incorporated.
Remove the lid of the food processor and sprinkle in 5 tablespoons of the applejack {ice water}. Replace the lid and pulse 5 times. Add more applejack as needed, and pulse again until the mixture holds together when squeezed. {I left it real dry. 5 T only} Weigh the dough and divide in half.  {I just guessed. I knew my pan was smaller than what the recipe called for so it wouldn't be a problem of not having enough.} Shape each half into a disk, wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 1 hour and up to overnight. {I did it the night before. This is the same Cuisinart technique my Aunt Dorian taught me when I was a teenager.}
For the filling:
Peel and core the apples {pears}. Slice into 1/2-inch thick wedges. {I squeezed (squoze) two limes over the pears as I cut them up to slow the browning.} Toss all of the apples with 1/4 cup of the sugar, place in a colander set over a large bowl and allow to drain for 1 1/2 hours. {I left this while I went to HEB to look for tapioca flour.}
Transfer the drained liquid to a small saucepan, place over medium heat and reduce to 2 tablespoons. Set aside to cool. {I didn't have much juice and I don't trust my stove to not burn stuff up so I didn't concentrate this juice.} Toss the apples with the remaining sugar, tapioca flour, jelly, cider, lime juice, salt and grains of paradise. {I put the tapioca in a coffee grinder with about 7 allspice and whirred it up good. I put some ginger and nutmeg in there and gave it another whir. It was the consistency of flour with medium grind pepper in it like you'd use to coat chicken. I added that to the pears with the two spoons of guava jelly and one of the pear soda but no more lime juice. I shook in a few dashes of Angostora bitters too. I love that stuff. I did remember to add some salt and 1/4 cup of sugar. See photo below.}
For assembling and baking the pie:
Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.
Remove one disk of dough from the refrigerator. Place the dough onto a lightly floured piece of waxed paper. Lightly sprinkle the top of the dough with flour and roll out into a 12-inch circle. Place into a 9 1/2 to 10-inch tart pan that is 2-inches deep. {I used a 9" pie plate that fits in my pie keeper. I can't eat up a whole pie so I probably have to take it somewhere to get somebody to help me eat it.} Gently press the dough into the sides of the pan, crimping and trimming the edges as necessary. Set a pie bird in the center of the bottom of the pan. {I found a pie bird at HEB for $3.95. This was after I'd already cut up the pears. I'd searched online to see if I should go to Williams Sonoma at the mall but they didn't have them on the website. It's pretty amazing that they had this obscure item at my grocery store.}
Place the apples {pears} into the unbaked pie shell in concentric circles starting around the edges, working towards the center and forming a slight mound in the center of the pie. Pour over any liquid that remains in the bowl. (Mine wasn't really liquid so much as gritty goo. Man oh man was it delicious though.} Roll out the second pie dough as the first. Place this dough over the apples, pressing the pie bird through the top crust. Press together the edges of the dough around the rim of the pie. Brush the top crust with the reduced juice everywhere except around the edge of pie. {I just used it straight out of the pan it drained into. It beaded up on the greasy crust. I saved the extra in a jelly jar to use as a sauce.} Trim any excess dough. Place the pie on a half sheet pan lined with parchment paper and bake on the floor** of the oven for 30 minutes. {I did it on the bottom rack for 20 minutes since my pie pan is a little smaller than specified. I didn't have any parchment paper either.} Transfer to the lower rack of the oven and continue to bake another 20 minutes or until the apples are cooked through but not mushy. {I took it out and put my pie crust edge protector on it. I moved the rack up one notch and put it back in for another 20 minutes.} Remove to a rack and cool a minimum of 4 hours or until almost room temperature.
**If you're using an electric oven with coils on the bottom of the oven, place the pie on the sheet pan on the lowest rack over the coils, NOT directly on top of them.
My flavorings and thickener for the filling. Salt and sugar not shown.
Bottom crust done. Pie bird deployed.
Pears arranged in the pie plate.

Rolling out top crust. I guess I haven't forgotten all I knew because it didn't bother me at all when my crust looked like this. I knew I had more than I needed so I just kept rolling.
After rolling it as thin as I wanted it was fine.

Ready to go in the oven. I didn't use the flash and it was hard to adjust the color in this picture.
After 20 minutes I put this thing on there and put it back in one rack higher.
 I just pulled the extra rack out of the oven for cooling.
Not sure what my plan is for eating the pie yet. I'm a little worried about where to leave it overnight. I've been hearing something running around in my ceiling downstairs. I'll be really really mad if I go down to the kitchen and find the rats ate my pie.

* Update: I ate a piece of the pie. The allspice was too strong for the delicate pears. I think next time I might go with just the bitters and maybe a little ginger. The pears were done al dente and the crust was flakey and nicely browned on the bottom. There was no runny liquid. The moisture was the consistency of warm jelly. I might put more liquid in next time or less tapioca. 

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