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Peekin’ at Pecan

11/25/2010

This year’s holiday pie is pecan. Not that “healthy,” old-fashioned style but a full-out corn-syrup concoction. I wanted to try a different crust, too—this one with lard. Yup, you heard me. Yummy, 100% non-vegetarian fat.

I usually combine butter with vegetable shortening, but in trying to avoid trans fats, I limit the shortening to Earth Balance. I finally got a good recipe for this, which tastes good, is flaky, and presumably a tad healthier than the old Crisco-based crust. The problem with Earth Balance is that the crust doesn’t hold its shape. After crimping or sculpting the edges, they just flatten and seem to “melt.”

This drives me crazy.

The other problem is that the Earth Balance crust doesn’t brown. Even using 50% butter, it doesn’t have that nutty, appetizing look when done.

So this Thanksgiving, I decided to try mixing butter and lard as my fats. So far, the results look perfect. And I have to say the dough was more forgiving and stretchy than usual, just like it looks on TV when those celebrity chefs effortlessly spin out a beautiful disc of dough. That never happened to me. Until now.

The secret to making a really good pecan pie is using plenty of nuts. Most recipes call for a cup of pecans, or maybe a cup and a half. Today, I used three. After mixing up the custard base (3 eggs, 2/3 cup sugar, cup dark syrup, and a capful of vanilla), I threw in one cup of halves, another of broken pieces, and stirred it all together. What I look for is complete pecan saturation, and two cups didn’t do it. So I pounded another cup into pieces and threw that in.

Voila! The perfect pecan density. Fifty-sixty minutes in the oven, and there you have it. One of the easiest pies you can make.
Pecan pie

Happy Thanksgiving!

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From → Desserts, Food

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