Back when I was fresh out of school, living in Cambridge with two sisters from California, I found a weird little green thing on the kitchen table. We were sitting around, having after work drinks, and Jen (one of the sisters) sliced it open, whacked out the pit, and started making guacamole. I was sort of stunned, because while I’d had guacamole before (for years, and loved it), I’d never seen an avocado, nor did I really know what guacamole was.
(To be fair, the girls were just as amazed and confused at the variety of gourds I brought home that fall. I grew up with squash, they grew up with avocados and lemon trees. Regionality at its best.)
Anyway, another food that used to be in the love-but-really-not-sure-what-it-was-parade was rhubarb. I clearly remember the first time I had strawberry rhubarb pie (my grandfather’s post-funeral gorge and get drunk Irish Catholic mourning thing – it was one of his favorite pies I found out that day). I remember how delicious and different it was, and wondering what the hell rhubarb was. A spice? A fruit? But then I quickly got very very drunk and forgot all about it.
Then, years later, we got a bunch with our CSA basket in NYC and I thought “ooooohhhhh, so THIS is what rhubarb is” immediately followed by “I must make pie!”. Long time readers of the blog may remember the pie soup fiasco that ensued (I thought I could wing it in the same way I wing making apple pie), but shortly thereafter Carole passed along her pie recipe and saved my hopes of mastering this pie.
And now the rule in my home is every time I see rhubarb and strawberries sold together, I must buy them and make pie. It only happens a few times a year, and it’s a huge treat. Fortunately, that time is upon us again, and it resulted recently in this:
Strawberry Rhubarb Pie
From Carole, Baker Extraordinaire
2 ½ cups strawberries
2 ½ cups rhubarb
1 ½ cups sugar
¼ cup cornstarch
You’re on your own. I always used store bought until recently, but am not good enough at making my own to offer any guidance. Carole has a tutorial here, and it’s a good place to start if you’d like to make your own. And here’s Smitten Kitchen’s take on making a butter-only crust.
Mix together strawberries, rhubarb, sugar and cornstarch. Let stand for 15 minutes, giving it a stir a few times. Put that in your crust and dot with some butter. Make a lattice top, and then bake for 30 minutes at 425, reduce heat to 350 and bake another 25-35 minutes.
The lattice top is very very important. Strawberries get soupy, and the lattice allows the excess moisture to steam out. Also, I highly recommend lining the oven shelf with tin foil to catch drips. (See: soupy) The last thing you want is a constant stream of sugary drips collecting on your hot oven floor and smoking you out of house and home. Ask me how I know.
Thoughts on filling ingredients:
I almost never have exact amounts of strawberries and rhubarb. I aim for equal amounts (sometimes they’re equal, sometimes they’re not) and having enough total to fill a pie. I often go light on the sugar, particularly if the strawberries are at the peak of ripeness and from a local farm. Those don’t need much help.