Growing up, I don’t recall paying much attention to the fleshy, edible stalks (petioles) of species and hybrids (culinary rhubarb) of Rheum in the family Polygonaceae, which are cooked and used for food. I recall my older relatives swooning over rhubarb pie once it came in season, but I don’t recall them offering me a taste. Maybe they figured I wouldn’t like it. Rhubarbs were what umpires and disgruntled managers engaged in.
My wife’s recent turn away from things sweet got me thinking about rhubarb. Maybe she’d like a confection made with this tart concoction. This past week I splurged and bought $4 worth of a rhubarb bundle. It was about to rot when I stumbled on my impetus. Seeking to sort out the collection of cookbooks in my basement kitchen, I came across 3 manila folders chock full of recipes. One was full of things I’d collected back in med school. I don’t recall that I was that much into cooking then. Maybe it was a fantasy that I could be someday. I had a lot of clippings from Mike McGrady “My turn to cook”, a column which ran in the Tribune. He pointed out full dinners guys could cook. More fantasy, I guess. One happened to include rhubarb pie, which seemed pretty simple. He pointed out the hard part was the crust, and proposed a ready made product. But elsewhere in that same folder was a 4X6 card handwritten in a style I didn’t recognize “fool proof pie crust”. That was enough for me. I already had the new cast iron pie plate, lard, the tallow I’d rendered up https://wordpress.com/post/theviewfromharbal.com/1384, and bacon grease. I’d end up using all 3.
The pie recipe itself was pretty simple
But the key is the crust, and here’s that recipe
Thank God for my pastry cutter. Kathy, who is more savvy about dough than I, thought it was pretty soupy. She lined the bacon greased iron pie plate with lumps of dough she spread by hand. As she worked more with the dough, it became more malleable. We had some left over with which she made tarts from yesterday’s berry sauce https://wordpress.com/post/theviewfromharbal.com/1763.
The pie baked up into something beauteous
And I can attest, it is absolutely delicious, with an exquisite crust. I understand now what my old relatives were raving about. I suppose mincemeat pie is next.
The dessert was prepared to follow a simple dinner, prepared also from a recipe retrieved from my Chicago file
Hard to lose with a $50 winner! We cut up 2 C of duck breast from our 4th of July feast, giving our salad a little protein. We had a nice French pinot to wash it all down. It was spectacular.
So I’ll go and post this now, then go to have another piece of that pie. Life is good.
When I posted this yesterday, I forgot something important: a closing song! Fortunately, Roy Blount Jr. has written the perfect one. Unfortunately, it’s not on YouTube. So I’ll just reproduce it here. It’s the last one in his book*.
SONG TO PIE
Pie. Oh my.
Nothing tastes sweet,
Wet, salty and dry.
All at once so well as pie.
Apple and pumpkin and mince and black bottom.
I’ll come to your place every day if you’ve got ’em.
- *Blount Jr R. Save room for pie. Food songs and chewy ruminations. New York: Sarah Crichton Books. Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2016.