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pie crusts and such

post #1 of 11
Thread Starter 
If anyone has anything to add to this conversation, please feel free to join in.

I just joined today, and had a brief off board discussion with a CT member that I am sharing, with his permission, in case anyone else had something to add. I somehow managed to delete my end of the conversation, so I'm guessing at what I wrote.

I think it started with me giving BDL grief re: his Latin tagline beneath his signature. He responded with some suggestions that are actually useful to me, because I'm always in search of the perfect crusts for my pies...

Looking forward to talking pies and pie crusts with you. I generally prefer straight lard as the "shortening." Also, regarding your issues with crumb crusts, you might either try more butter in the crumbs or substituting the butter (or at least some of it) for lightly beaten egg white.
Caveat pistor (you encouraged me on the Latin -- no one to blame but yourself): Watch out with the egg white and the pressure. You can go from "fall apart" to "concrete" pretty easily.
As much as you bake though, you can afford a few failures and should develop a good "touch" for whatever you're doing PDQ.
Rich (BDL)


I'm pretty sure I replied by saying that I experiment freely and fail often, and that (hopefully) eventually makes me better at what I do. I know I thanked BDL for the advice, and expressed concerns about lard being bad for you.



Mike,

I don't believe current medical dogma has it that there are any adverse health risks for lard as compared to butter or vegetable shortening. But, depending where you live, finding good lard can be problematic. Here, in SoCal, it's easy.

The egg white thing also works with nutmeal and nut/crumb crusts.


BDL
post #2 of 11
Lard .....I use it often in savory and sweet pie crusts. Solution is to eat only enough to feel satisfied that you were not deprived. Pie crust is only really there as a conveyance for the filling, anyway.
post #3 of 11
I do agree. Lard helps a lot, but yeah.. eat moderately :)
post #4 of 11

Lard

I've been meaning to give lard a whirl for a while now, but had heard that you need to get leaf lard, from the fat around the kidneys, & that standard supermarket lard was made from any ol' pig fat & would not make good pastry.

Good lard easy to come by here in SoCal? Point me to it. Or have I been misinformed, & is Farmer John's lard fine?

While I'm on the topic, what about suet (also, I understand, kidney fat)? Is it obtainable? Would lard be a good substitute for suet?

More to the point, I guess,- has anyone cooked with suet in the last hundred years?
The genesis of all the world's great cuisines can be summed up in a four word English phrase: Don't throw that away.
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The genesis of all the world's great cuisines can be summed up in a four word English phrase: Don't throw that away.
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post #5 of 11
Farmer John lard is excellent. They set a very high standard. Perhaps because it's as good as it is, so is the competiton -- that's about 95% of the lard you see in local carnecerias.

One doesn't expect Farmer John to be as good as it is, because it's ubiquitous. Yet, it is. In much of the country, most of the available, rendered lard isn't very good -- hence the big deal about making your own "leaf lard." It just isn't necessaary here. Why we're lucky in SoCal, I don't know. It's enough that we are.

You can buy the bricks if you like, but the tubs have more soul.

BDL
post #6 of 11
tyvm, bdl, I shall pick some up today.

Practically every pastry recipe I've seen that mentions lard says something to the effect of, lard is really great, but nobody uses lard anymore, oh well... & then goes on to say nothing about how one would use lard if one decided to. So - I'm thinking pie crust here - straight lard, or lard + butter?

I know - the answer to that is try it & see! Just wondering if there was SOP...

Why we're lucky with lard in CA? I have a guess: refried beans.
The genesis of all the world's great cuisines can be summed up in a four word English phrase: Don't throw that away.
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The genesis of all the world's great cuisines can be summed up in a four word English phrase: Don't throw that away.
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post #7 of 11
Lard is abundant wherever you find hungry people of Latin descent. It is in every grocery store with either the oils or baking supplies. I have been using it all my life and until today was not aware of "gourmet" lard. Thank you, gentlemen. (she keys with tongue in cheek) About the suet...my mom would render some to brown the Sunday roast. See if you can find some...a better brown gravy you will not find.
post #8 of 11
Grumio,

Yes. You can make a flakier pie crust with lard than with butter -- but making pie crusts flaky as opposed to crumbly is as much a matter of technique (mostly don't cut the pieces of fat too small) as of which fat.

In a crust (or biscuits for that matter), good lard yields a vary clean, near absence of flavor, as compared to butter or even vegetable shortening. I like that for most pie crusts, but prefer butter for most tart crusts. My feeling with pies and biscuits is that there are better places to put the butter. But, that's me.

. That's at least partly true. We certainly have a very competitive environment with so many carnecerias rendering their own lard. Partly, it's also that Clougherty (aka Farmer John) does good lard and has always done so. At any rate, Farmer John is the standard against which all others are measured. Can those things even be separated?

BDL
post #9 of 11
Thread Starter 
Made a coupla pies since this thread began, and I actually did look for lard at my two local grocery stores, both major chains (Safeway and Giant). Neither carried them, and I did without, but I guess I'll be looking for a specialty store, next time.
post #10 of 11
I recently discovered how dangerously easy it is to make lemon curd in the microwave, & thence to passionfruit curd, & given my also recent discovery of pomegranate molasses & purchase of a tart pan, a pomegranate curd tart seems inevitable.

My pastry dharma is ok. I use the food processor to cut the fat in & mix in the water by hand (well, by spatula). I've only rarely wound up with really poor pie crust; OTOH I've rarely made pie crust that is out-of-this-world good. Pastry is an acquired skill. I picked up some lard today; I look forward to trying it.

Suet: my sister & I are big fans of Patrick O'Brian (Master & Commander etc); there's a book of recipes of dishes mentioned in the series (Lobscouse and Spotted Dog), & one of the big deals in 19th century Royal Navy cooking was suet puddings. My sis & I decided to do an Aubrey/Maturin meal & went all over Miami looking for suet, to no avail.

Anyway. Hardly a pressing issue.

Think I'll go make that pomegranate curd right now.
The genesis of all the world's great cuisines can be summed up in a four word English phrase: Don't throw that away.
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The genesis of all the world's great cuisines can be summed up in a four word English phrase: Don't throw that away.
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post #11 of 11
A good source of suet would be (I would think) a result of a long standing relationship with your local butcher. Like bones for your dog, a request to hold some back when breaking down the next prime steer should result in a bit of fresh, high quality fat.
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