My all time, favorite, pie crust

Happy day after Thanksgiving! Are you still lying on the floor with your pants unbuttoned, wishing you hadn’t eaten so much yesterday? Hopefully you had a great day, ate well and spent some time with loved ones.  I know it’s a little soon to be thinking about making more meals, especially when most of our fridges are full of leftovers, but perhaps a turkey pot pie is just the thing to use up some of that turkey. And any good pot pie starts with a pie crust. A good one!

I’ve tried all sorts of pie crusts, but when I finally tried this one, and saw and tasted the results, it then became my one and only, and I have never felt the need to go and try other recipes. I’m done. That’s it’s. It’s like I have a second husband now. Till death do us part. Me, Rob, and this pie crust.

Here’s the big debate: Butter or shortening? I think there’s two sides of the fence here. You are either on one, or the other side. Unless you like to sit right on the fence, with the little Pillsbury dough boy sitting on your lap that you bought from the store. Then you’re saying, “Who cares! Just buy a store bought pie crust and don’t worry about how they make it!”.

I will probably be buried with a stick of butter in my pocket, but the jury is in on this one, and I have to say, it’s a unanimous YES to shortening, when it comes to pie crust. (I am feeling judged right now, by so many, but I will hold my head high and pretend it doesn’t hurt.)

This recipe comes from Ree Drummond’s first cookbook “The Pioneer Woman Cooks”.

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It’s simple, and whenever I make it, I double the recipe so I end up with 4 generous pie crusts (You could divide in 6 for thin crusts as well). These freeze beautifully and I like to freezer cook when I’m making things like this so it’s fast and ready to go when I need it. If you’re going to put the time into making pie crust from scratch, you might as well make a lot and make the time and effort worth it.

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Ingredients: (Copied from Website)

1-1/2 cup Crisco (vegetable Shortening)
3 cups All-purpose Flour
1 whole Egg
5 Tablespoons Cold Water
1 Tablespoon White Vinegar
1 teaspoon Salt

Instructions: (Copied from Website)

In a large bowl, with a pastry cutter, gradually work the Crisco into the flour for about 3 or 4 minutes until it resembles a coarse meal. In a small bowl, beat an egg with a fork and then pour it into the flour/shortening mixture. Add 5 tablespoons of cold water, 1 tablespoon of white vinegar and 1 teaspoon of salt. Stir together gently until all of the ingredients are incorporated.

Separate the dough into thirds. ***Note: Separating it into thirds will result in three thin crusts. If you prefer a more substantial crust, separate it in half.*** Form 3 evenly sized balls of dough and place each dough into a large Ziploc bag. Using a rolling pin, slightly flatten each ball of dough (about ½ inch thick) to make rolling easier later. Seal the bags and place them in the freezer until you need them. (If you will be using it immediately it’s still a good idea to put in the freezer for about 15 to 20 minutes to chill.)

Here’s how mine turned out:

I start with my flour. I like to use unbleached white flour. It’s still white flour at the end of the day, but I feel like it might be just a tad bit better quality.

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And then once again, I double this recipe when I make it, so I went ahead and measured out 6 cups of flour into my big mixing bowl.

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I add my salt (2 teaspoons because I’m doubling it).

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Then here it is. The clouds part, and the sun rays shine down on this little star of the show. Crisco. One of those things you see in the grocery aisle that you sort of dismiss as weird and gross and keep walking. Because who buys that? And for what? This crust, is your answer.

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I buy this 3 stick pack specifically for this pie crust recipe. Since I double it, I need 3 cups of shortening. Each stick is one cup, so I have the exact amount all neatly packed for me. It would be so much cheaper if I bought that massive Costco size tub that would last me an entire year, but then I have to measure. And that’s messy and greasy. And honestly, the shame I would feel about buying that much Crisco is enough to make me spend a few extra dollars each year.

I cut the sticks a little smaller and then throw it all in the bowl.

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Get your pastry cutter out and spend a little time on this. You’ll find that since the Crisco is so soft, you will need a butter knife to scrape the pastry cutter off during the first minute or so until the flour has worked its way into it to dry it and separate.

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After three or four minutes it’s starting to look pretty good, but I went for another two minutes or so to get a bit finer of a crumb.

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When I was satisfied, I put two eggs (to double it) in a bowl and whisked them together.

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I added them to my crumb mixture.

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Then added 10-12 Tablespoons (to double it) of cold water.

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And 2 Tablespoons (to double it) of white vinegar.

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Get out a wooden spoon and gently start combining this. Because this is a large amount, you might find this is a bit of a task, so I usually end up using my hands a little. Just be careful not to work the dough too much. 

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The more you do, the less pastry-like and puffy it will be. You don’t want a dense pie crust!

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When it’s just come together, place the dough on a floured work surface and cut it into pieces. With this doubled recipe, you could make 6 thin crusts, but I like my crust thicker, so I only do 4.

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I place each into a large ziploc bag, and because I’m lazy, more than anything, I don’t bother with a rolling pin. 

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I just gently press each down with my hand and flatten it a bit.

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They stack nice and flat for your freezer!

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I was freezer cooking when I made these, so they all went into the freezer and I didn’t continue on to use them right away. If you wanted to, you could continue with the instructions in the cookbook for how to roll it out and place it in your pie pan.

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Or here it is copied from the online recipe:

When you are ready to use the dough to make a crust, remove from the freezer and allow to thaw for 15 minutes. On a floured surface roll the dough, starting at the center and working your way out. (Sprinkle some flour over top of the dough if it’s a bit too moist.) If the dough is sticking to the countertop use a metal spatula and carefully scrape it up and flip it over and continue rolling until it’s about ½ inch larger in diameter than your pie pan.

With a spatula, lift the dough carefully from the surface of the counter into the pie pan. Gently press the dough against the corner of the pan. Go around the pie pan pinching and tucking the dough to make a clean edge.

Although I didn’t make something with these right away, I can show you a photo of an individual chicken pot pie I made with this crust a little while ago.

I filled my ramekins with my filling and then laid a small circle of the crust on top and folded the crust down and pressed it securely around the edges so the filling wouldn’t bubble up and out around the edges. I also made a slit in the top for steam to escape. I baked these for about 45 minutes at 400 degrees and it came out perfect. It puffed up so big. It was incredibly flaky and soft, and it is so light and airy.

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I can’t say enough about this perfect pie crust. It is just that – perfect! I will probably never feel the need to try another recipe for crust. I’m a loyal person. When I know I’ve found ‘the one’, I just know. So don’t even try to convince me to stray. And although butter is always going to be my BFF (Oh, and you too L.M. xo), it knows that this is the one time it’s not allowed to shine.

Hopefully this will get you motivated to use up some of your leftovers, and use what you have to make yet another scrumptious meal!

3 Cheers for Crisco!!!

– The Homesteaders Wife

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