I've been telling Dino about my aunt Jan's rhubarb pie for years. He's never had the pleasure of tasting one, and I hadn't had one since I was a teenager. So over Thanksgiving, when we went to Indiana to visit, I insisted that she show me how to make it. Long story short - rhubarb isn't in season at all, and I've gone to many stores and come up empty handed. Yes, even stores that told me they had it (fresh OR frozen) on the phone. So I've been on a mission since then. I had finally given up, and today, I saw a basket of it at Whole Foods (one of the very places that I had checked before, to no avail). I was sure I was dreaming, or that it was trimmed Swiss chard. But no, it was real, and I stocked up!

So here's the recipe that she uses, along with the pie crust recipe that she uses for all of her pies. She says you can use a frozen crust too, no biggie. Rhubarb has a very unusual flavor. It's insanely tart, but in this custard, it's balanced by sweet and it's just heavenly. My mom never liked the stuff, but I'm a big fan. And now, Dino says it was all worth the wait...and we still have a lot of slices left for the week!

Rhubarb Custard Pie
Our Swiss Pantry
Mrs. Willis W. (Magdalena) Lehman

4 cups rhubarb
¾ cup sugar
1 ¼ cups sugar
4 tablespoons flour
½ teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons butter
3 eggs, well beaten

Mix rhubarb and 3/4 c. sugar; let stand till watery. Work 1 1/4 c. sugar, flour and salt into butter; add eggs, then add to rhubarb. Pour into an unbaked 10" pie shell and bake 15 minutes at 400° then 45 minutes at 325°.

If frozen rhubarb is used, pour off water before adding sugar.

MacGourmet Rating:: 5 Stars

Standard Pastry
Betty Crocker's Cookbook

8- or 9-inch one-crust pie
1 cup all purpose flour*
½ teaspoon salt
⅓ cup plus 1 tablespoon shortening, or 1/3 cup lard
2 - 3 tablespoons cold water

10-inch one-crust pie
1 ⅓ cups all purpose flour*
½ teaspoon salt
½ cup shortening, or 1/4 cup plus 3 tablespoons lard
3 - 4 tablespoons cold water

8- or 9-inch two-crust pie
2 cups all purpose flour*
1 teaspoon salt
⅔ cup plus 2 tablespoons shortening, or 2/3 cup lard
4 - 5 tablespoons cold water

10-inch two-crust pie
2 ⅔ cups all purpose flour*
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup shortening, or 3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons lard
7 - 8 tablespoons cold water

* if using self-rising flour, omit salt. Pie crusts made with self-rising flour differ in flavor and texture from those made with plain flour.

Measure flour and salt into bowl. Cut in shortening thoroughly . Sprinkle in water, 1 tablespoon at a time, mixing until all flour is moistened and dough almost cleans side of bowl (1-2 teaspoons water can be added if needed).

Gather dough into ball; shape into flattened round on lightly floured cloth-covered board (for two-crust pie, divide dough in half and shape into 2 flattened rounds). With floured stockinet-covered rolling pin, roll dough 2 inches larger than inverted pie pan. Fold into quarters; unfold and ease into pan.

For one-crust pie: trim overhanging edge of pastry 1 inch from rim of pan. Fold and roll pastry under, even with pan; flute. Fill and bake as directed in recipe.

For baked pie shell: prick bottom and side thoroughly with fork. Bake at 475° for 8-10 minutes.

For two-crust pie: turn desired filling into pastry-lined pie pan. Trim overhanging edge of pastry 1/2 inch from rim of pan. Roll second round of dough. Trim overhanging edge of pastry 1 inch under lower edge, pressing on rim to seal; flute. Cover edge with 2- to 3-inch strip of aluminum foil to prevent excessive browning; remove foil for last 15 minutes of baking. Bake as directed in recipe.

Note: if possible, hook fluted edge over edge of pie pan to prevent shrinking and help keep shape.

MacGourmet Rating: 5 Stars

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