I never know if I’m stealing an Edible Manhattan when I remove it from a coffee shop or store. Usually there’s a price on top of it, but they’re stacked up next to The Onion and the Onion’s free, right? So I’m either wanted by New York City police or I’m perfectly within my rights to pilfer a copy each month.
And this month I’m glad I did it, because it was in the pages of a pilfered Edible Manhattan that I learned about the lard pie crust from Flying Pigs Farm.
I realize that some of you may be squeamish about baking with lard–“Eww! Pig fat in my cookies? No thank you!”–but the one or two times that I’ve tried it, the results have been flaky and rich. The problem, though, was that the lard I bought–cheap, cheap lard from the Key Food across the street from my old apartment–put me in an ethical quandary, imagining the tortured factory pigs from whence the lard came.
Which is why I was so excited to hear about this lard pie crust from Flying Pigs, a farm notable for its benevolent treatment of animals. Not only could I feel good about this lard on an ethical level, but I could feel good about it on a lazy person level: they put it in the pie crust for you!
And so it was that on a Wednesday I sauntered up to the Union Square Farmer’s Market, purchased a package of lard-flecked pie dough from Flying Pigs (I think it was $12, but I don’t really remember) that came with two frozen discs wrapped neatly in plastic.
I also purchased a variety of apples from an apple vendor–Macouns, Jonagolds, Empires (inspired by Martha Stewart’s recipe)–and brought everything home.
The apples (I used about 6 of them) I peeled and cored and cut into wedges; then I tossed them in a bowl with one cup of sugar, 1/3 cup of flour, 1 Tbs cinnamon, and 1/2 tsp freshly grated nutmeg (per Craig’s dad’s favorite recipe).
Oh, but the poor pie dough. The pigs that went into this pie dough might’ve led a happy life on the Flying Pigs farm, but the poor pie dough itself didn’t know what it was in for when I brought it home. I am never more amateur than I am when trying to roll out pie dough. I AM TERRIBLE AT IT.
I should get an award for most terrible roller of pie dough. I know all the tricks, all the techniques. Whack it with the rolling pin, keep it moving, make sure it’s chilled, roll out from the center only, make sure it’s floured.
Doesn’t matter. I suck at it. And this pie dough, which may not have fully defrosted, fought a vicious battle with me as I whacked it and tugged it and cracked it right down the middle.
But you know what? There’s a secret. As long as you don’t try to re-roll it, you can take whatever mess you’ve created with your pie dough and plop it into a pie pan, fill in all the gaps with broken off pieces, and then when you fill it with apples and patch another layer of dough on top, no one will know the difference (except Martha Stewart).
Look at that there pie, you wouldn’t refuse a slice, would you?
And that slice was indeed heavenly. The crust was effortlessly flaky. You didn’t really taste the lard, but you noticed its effects: silky and smooth and light, this was a lovely pie crust and it came from a happy pig.
So next time you’re thinking of making an apple pie, why not consider putting lard in the crust? It might sound strange, but it’ll pay off. And if you live in New York, you really have no excuse: the Union Square Farmer’s Market is calling your name, won’t you heed its call? You can even steal an Edible Manhattan there; don’t worry, I won’t tell.