While visiting Sonoma County, I came across an article written by a local pig farmer. In the article, she was asking the public to try using lard in their cooking. She went on to say that lard made the best, flakiest pie crust.
Do you associate lard and lard products with health problems? Can you picture your arteries clogging as you eat something containing lard or being fried in lard? Would you feel guilty as you watched your family and friends eating the lard-based recipes you put before them?
As a home cook, I’m always willing to try new flavors, new ingredients and new recipes. When it comes to cooking, I am always open to ideas and suggestions. Knowing this, I also give myself permission to move on when my kitchen experiments don’t work out.
When I was a kid, I remember lard being sold in white plastic buckets. But when it came to homemade pie crust, my mother and everyone else always used Crisco. In junior high, we were taught to make pie crust with Crisco. I remember that well because my group flunked the pie crust making because we couldn’t get our pie crust to fill the pie pan. No amount of pie filling could hide that fact.
By reading this pig farmer’s article, I became sold on lard. I was willing to stop by the pig farmer’s farm for some lard, but she only took appointments. Being a stranger to the area, I had no idea on finding her farm.
Curiosity got the best of me when I returned home. Fall is the best season for baking since the weather is turning a little colder. You want to stay indoors and have the activities to match. I was already thinking ahead. This season, there is nothing wrong with making an improved pie crust for my chicken or turkey pot pies and apple pies. Of course, I would want to show off my cooking and baking skills with a memorable pie crust. Why wouldn’t I want to hear numerous compliments?
Finding the lard was easy enough. On the supermarket shelves, there were buckets and small boxes of the stuff. I bought a 16-oz. package, and I was amused to read lard on one side and manteca on the flip side. But this is California. If you don’t know a little Spanish, you’re sunk.
We even have a city named Manteca. Who would do such a thing?
Instead of looking for a lard pie crust recipe, I took my favorite butter pie crust recipe and used lard instead of butter. I didn’t change the measurements.
Lard Pie Crust
2 1/2 cups flour
1 cup lard
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon sugar
3-6 tablespoons ice water
1 egg, beaten, to brush on the crust before baking
1. Using a fork or knife, you can “cut” into the flour and lard until the mixture forms into a ball. You can also make the lard pie crust by pulsing the ingredients in a food processor. I am too lazy to make pie crust either way. Instead, I use my KitchenAid mixer with the paddle attachment. I mix the flour and lard on a low setting until I have a ball of dough.
2. Divide the dough into two discs. Wrap each disc in plastic wrap, then refrigerate for an hour or more. This step is optional, but refrigerating the pie dough may make it easier to work with.
3. Roll out the pie crust dough and use as desired. If the dough seems delicate and easily falls apart as you roll it out, try adding more ice water. Make another ball and try rolling it out again.
4. Brush pie crust with beaten egg for an attractive, golden brown baked crust.
5. Bake at 350 degrees for about 20 minutes.
“Very tasty,” my husband commented after bringing one of the pies to work. Since he couldn’t put the pie tin in the office microwave, he simply dumped the pie on a paper plate and heated it up for lunch.
Based on my husband’s compliment, the recipe stays. I made four small chicken pot pies (5 inches in diameter x 1 1/4 inches) with this lard pie crust recipe. I will probably use the same recipe to make apple pie for Thanksgiving or Christmas. If I have turkey leftovers during the holidays, I can easily make them into pot pies.
For now, all I need is a visit to a local apple orchard for the pie apples of my choice.