Sunday, May 17, 2009

Torta di fragole e rabarbaro

Pies have never been my favorite dessert, mainly because I never really liked the crust. In fact, I know quite a few Americans who eat the filling and not the crust.. which of course, makes you wonder why they don't just bake the filling in a pan (and yes, I know somebody wisely does that :) ). However, Matt thought that the reason I never liked pie crusts is that I never had a really good one. Traditionally, pies crusts are made with lard, and the flavor that is given by lard is impossible to imitate with butter or shortening. So, we had the perfect reason to try making a good lard-crust pie: prepare a strawberry-rhubarb pie using the freshest ingredients in season, and use the recipe for the Fresh Produce of the Month event centered on rhubarb.

Recently we experimented a few times with lard, mostly to fry our homemade tacos in it. When I told people I had a few things cooked with lard, I got two possible reactions: disgust, or appreciation and nostalgic memories from childhood. My mom's reaction was the latter, and she told me about these fantastic 'bugie' that her grandma used to make for Carnival, by frying the dough in lard instead of oil, and how much more airy and fluffy they were compared to anything you can find nowadays. So, this will be the subject of another post, when I will try to repeat the bugie that I made some years ago, using lard instead of oil for frying.

Here comes the moment for the recipe of..

La vera torta di fragole e rabarbaro/ The real strawberry-rhubarb pie
As you can easily imagine, the most important part to get right for this authentic pie is the crust. To make this small cuty pie, you have to use 1 cup flour and 1/3 cup of lard, no less than that! The secret is in cutting the lard into the flour: use two knives and literally cut the lard while mixing it into the flour. Add also a pinch of salt. Once it's all in, add ~1 tbsp water, just enough to make it stick together: the smaller the better. Also, work the dough with your hands as little as possible, just to make a ball with the dough in the end. Divide the dough in two parts, one a little larger than the other, and roll down in two thin disks. The larger disk will be the base of the pie. Place that in your pan. Add the filling, prepared by simply cutting 2 stalks of rhubarb, 8 large strawberries, and letting them sit in a bowl with a little bit of lemon juice and sugar to taste.
Cover with the second disk of dough, and punch holes through it. A "Pi" decoration is optional, but particularly fashionable. :) Bake at 450F for ~45 minutes. Let it cool down before cutting the slices.. And enjoy!
The lard does give a different taste to the dough. It took me two slices before I got used to it, but once you have trained your taste buds not to expect the flavor of butter, it's very addictive :)

If you still haven't done so, please send me your recipes centered on rhubarb for this month's Fresh Produce of The Month event! The deadline is May 29th.


Rosa's Yummy Yums said...

A delicious looking pie! I love rhubarb!



Finla said...

I have never done pie, this looks so moist, hope you got my mail with my entry.

Anonymous said...

The crust is my favorite part! Love your smiling pie :)

Unknown said...

I love rhubarb pie!! That is something you can't really get in NC-I miss it. Maybe I try making one:)

Amanda said...

This looks great--and making it in the cast iron is pure brilliance. My husband has just discovered a love for rhubarb,so I'm always looking for clever ways to use it up!

chemcookit said...

Rosa, thanks!

Happy Cook: yes, got the entry, thanks! Pies can be good. :)

Maryann: thanks :) The pie came out from the oven smiling :)

Crissy: true -- oh, NC. I miss it :)

Amanda: thanks! The cast iron idea, as well as the realization of the pie, are Matt's :)