Recipe: Favorite Pie Crust

This pie crust is based on Christopher Kimball’s method in the Cook’s Bible, with a few important tweaks. He uses only butter but I would insist on at least some animal fat if serving with a Texas-style barbecue meal. Makes one 9-inch pie crust (not counting any desired top layer).

Ingredients:
1 1/4 C all-purpose flour
1/4 t Kosher salt
1 T sugar
6 T chilled butter cut into half inch cubes
4 T chilled lard cut into half inch cubes (or use frozen bacon fat or beef tallow)
3-4 T ice water

Method: Add flour and salt to food processor fitted with steel blade; pulse to mix. Add butter pieces and toss quickly with a spoon so they are distributed evenly and coated with four. Pulse 5 times (a couple seconds per pulse) to mix butter with flour. Add lard or animal fat and pulse 4 more times, then a final mix of several seconds. The mixture should have the consistency of coarse cornmeal; if there are lumps pulse again to get rid of them.

Dump mixture into a bowl and sprinkle 3 T ice water over the top. Mix quickly with a spatula, spoon or cool fingers until dough sticks together. Add a bit more water if needed. Shape into a ball, smooshing together any rough corners, then flatten to a 4-inch diameter disk. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate 30 minutes to no more than 1 hour. Roll out on a floured surface with a rolling pin or wine bottle, working from the center to expand, moving scraps around till you have a circle roughly 12 inches across. Fold in half (slide a big knife under the dough to facilitate the process), transfer to a pie plate and open to full diameter. Cut off and move scraps around the edges as necessary to create an even edge. Decorate the edge with fork tines or your fingers if desired. Try to have all crust edges sticking up rather than resting on the lip of the pie plate since those sections will break off when you cut the pie. Fill with Buttermilk Pie filling or other and bake according to recipe.

Note: I use an ancient (c. 1994) Cuisinart for this prep; you may need to adjust method for your own food processor or hand mixing. (If mixing by hand, work quickly and keep your hands off the ingredients so everything stays cold.)

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