I made a mistake the first time I used leaf lard in pie crust. Unaccustomed to lard pastry as my wife and I were, it made a dessert pie that had a strong farmyard essence.
For a long time after, I stuck to roasting and frying potatoes in the lard and left the pie to butter.
In hindsight, I realize that a good way to start would be a savory pie, especially one made with pork or bacon. Then, if you’re brave make yourself a piggy apple pie.
This recipe is adapted from the Chez Pym, but all pie crusts are similar. You can add a couple of teaspoons of sugar if you like sweet crust.
If you don’t have a food processor, try a stand or hand-held electric mixer to cut the lard into the flour. Or go old school and “rub” pinches of the fat and flour between your thumb and first two fingers until you get a coarse meal. It can be meditative, if you’re in the right mood.
1-3/4 C. all-purpose flour (or white pastry flour, or whole wheat pastry flour)
1 C. leaf lard, chilled (or substitute butter or vegetable shortening)
1 tsp. salt (omit if using salted butter)
¼ C. very cold water
Load the flour, salt and lard into your food processor bowl and pulse until it looks like meal. I like the fat to be the size of small peas. Dump this out into a mixing bowl and add the very cold water. Mix together with your hands until the dough comes together. Don’t overmix – if it’s a little crumbly that’s fine.
Turn the dough onto a floured counter, and knead, pushing the heel of your hand through the dough (like you’re smearing it on the counter). After a minute or so of this, gather the dough into a flat circle, wrap in plastic wrap and place it in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes, or 10 minutes in the freezer. You can leave it for a couple of days if you need to.
When you’re ready to bake, remove the dough and and roll into a circle large enough to fit your pie pan.
At this point, get as fancy or as simple as you want. Cut off the excess around the rim and either flute it or just press around the edge with a fork. Depending on your pie recipe, you can either blind bake the crust and then add the filling, or add the filling to the raw crust and bake.