Friday, November 13, 2015

Cooking for a Holiday - Thanksgiving, Part V - Two Weeks Before

Okay, let's do a recap.

Thanksgiving is 13 days away.  So far, I've got:
  1. the menu planned;
  2. the non-perishables bought;
  3. the pumpkin cooked; and
  4. the turkey ordered.
And today I'm making pie crust.  Not rolling it out, just making the dough.  It's easy.  I promise.  Why would I lie? 

Apologies in advance:  I should have told you to buy a pastry cutter, but I didn't.  If you don't know what a pastry cutter is, forget about it, it's not strictly necessary.  You can get the same result using two butter knives and - literally - cut the butter into the flour.  And just to show you what kind of person I am, I'm going to use the butter knives, too, in solidarity.  Pastry cutters are a pain in the ass to clean, anyway, and slicing stuff up with knives is always a good time.

I used to use the all-purpose pie crust recipe from the Joy of Cooking.  Then, last year, I stumbled on the freaking HOLY GRAIL of pie crusts:  the King Arthur Flour All-Butter Pie Crust recipe, and damn! I am never going back.

You could just Google this recipe, but I'll give it to you here, too.  It looks a little weird - 16 tablespoons of butter??? - but trust me.  It rolls out like a dream and tastes like heaven.  I consider finding this recipe (thank you, St. Anthony!) one of the high points of my life.  Which tells you something about my life.

Here are the ingredients:

2 1/2 cups of unbleached, all-purpose flour
1 tsp of salt
16 Tbl of cold butter (real butter, please)
1/4 to 1/2 cup of ice water 

(Notice that most of these ingredients are cold.  It makes for a flakier crust.)

Now here's what you do:

Put the flour in a big bowl.  Stir in the salt.  Cut the butter into little pieces, and put it in the flour.  Work the butter into the flour (using a pastry cutter, two butter knives, your fingers, whatever) until it's all crumbly.

When you've got a bowl full of crumbly butter and flour, sprinkle the water all over it.  Start with the 1/4 cup and use more if you need to.  Then take your rings off and start playing with the dough until you can make one large dough ball.  Knead it a few times.  (If it doesn't come together right away, add a little more water and keep smooshing.  You'll get there.)  But as soon as you get your ball, stop kneading the dough and form it into a disk.  That way, you're halfway there when you roll it out for the pie.  Wrap the disk up real good in plastic wrap or something, put it into a plastic container with a tight seal, and put it in the fridge.  It'll be fine in there for about two weeks or until you're ready to bake your pies, whichever comes first (you can freeze it, too, no worries).  When you're ready to use the dough, take it out of the fridge and let it warm up at room temperature until it behaves.

I make a double recipe because I make two pies.  Two 9-inch, deep dish pies.  Don't made dinky pies.  They're not impressive.

That's it for today.  I got other things to do.  Like have a glass of wine, which I richly deserve, because I am a righteous, Thanksgiving-dinner-cooking sister.

I told you this would be easy.


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