"I grew up watching my mom make pies," says Grant Achatz. "My father would always envy her amazingly tender and flaky crusts. He is a great cook, but he could never quite make a piecrust like she can. Her crust rules, and I understand now that the secret is finesse, and genetically cold hands." Achatz's pie, inspired by his mom's, is as straightforward as it gets, with a melt-in-your-mouth all-shortening crust and a lightly sweetened pear filling with just a hint of spice.
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2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
2/3 cup cold vegetable shortening, in tablespoons
1/2 cup ice water
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
8 firm Bartlett or Anjou pears—peeled, cored and sliced 1/2 inch thick
1 tablespoon unsalted butter, cut into small bits
1 tablespoon milk
1 tablespoon sugar
1 tablespoon unsalted butter, melted
How to Make It
In a large bowl, mix the flour with the salt. Cut in the shortening until the mixture resembles coarse meal. Sprinkle on the ice water and mix lightly with a fork. Gently knead the dough until it just comes together. Cut the dough in half and flatten each piece into a disk. Wrap in plastic and refrigerate until firm, about 30 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 350°. In a large bowl, stir together the sugar, flour, cinnamon and cloves. Add the pears and toss to coat.
On a lightly floured work surface, roll out 1 disk of dough to an 11 1/2-inch round. Fit the dough into a 10-inch aluminum pie pan without stretching. Roll out the second disk of dough to an 11-inch round. Transfer the pear filling to the pie pan and arrange the slices so there are no gaps. Dot the pears with the butter. Cover the pie with the top crust and press all around the edge to seal. Trim any overhang and crimp the edge decoratively.
In a bowl, mix the milk, sugar and butter and brush this glaze over the pie. With a small knife, make 5 evenly spaced slits in the top crust.
Bake the pie for 1 hour and 50 minutes, or until the crust is golden brown and the filling begins to bubble through the vents. Let the pie cool on a rack, about 3 hours. Serve warm or at room temperature.
Sweet Chenin Blancs from the Anjou region of the western Loire valley are terrific value dessert wines and pair particularly well with baked orchard fruits like the pears in this pie.
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