Just last month we celebrated President's Day. It reminded me of the story of George Washington and the cherry tree, where we discover that cherries were one of his favorite foods. With the current presidential primaries upon us, what could be more patriotic than cherry pie?
Cherry pie ranks as the second favorite pie in United States with apple pie being No. 1.
Speaking of presidents, I had the pleasure of cooking for former president George H.W. Bush earlier in my career while I was working at The Cheeca Lodge in Islamorada in 1996. I was just a young man back then when they hosted the Annual George Bush/Cheeca Lodge Bonefish Tournament to benefit several charities. I remember I was working the grill station that night outside on the beach overlooking the water for The All American Beachside Barbeque, when President Bush walked up to the grill and asked me what I was cooking. It was New York strip steaks, flank steak and barbecued pulled pork. It was quite an honor to meet him and truly a memorable evening for me.
For this recipe you could use fresh cherries or the canned cherries in juice or heavy syrup, but do yourself a favor and don't buy the goopy canned pie filling.
An all-butter crust will give you a flaky delicious crust, but you could use another recipe or use a pre-made crust from the store.
Old-Fashion Cherry Pie
All-butter pie dough, recipe follows
4 cups pitted fresh cherries, about 2- 1/2 pounds
4 tablespoons cornstarch
2/3 to 3/4 cup sugar, adjust this according to the sweetness of the cherries
1/8 teaspoon salt
Zest of half a lemon
1/4 teaspoon almond extract
1 tablespoon cold unsalted butter, cut into small bits
1 egg, beaten with 2 tablespoons water
Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
Stir together the cherries, cornstarch, sugar, salt, lemon zest and almond extract gently together in a large bowl
Roll out half of chilled dough on a floured work surface to 13-inch round.
Gently place it in 9-inch pie pan, either by rolling it around the rolling pin and unrolling it over the pan or by folding it into quarters and unfolding it in the pan.
Trim edges to a half-inch overhang
Spoon filling into pie crust, discarding the majority of the liquid that has pooled in the bowl. Dot the filling with the bits of cold butter
Roll out the remaining dough into a 12-inch wide strip and cut using a pastry roller or a knife into 1/2-inch wide strips to make the lattice top.
It may be easier to make the lattice top on the table and then place the whole thing over the top of the pie.
Be sure to egg wash the edges of the pie crust before placing the top crust on.
Trim the ends of the lattice, brush with egg wash and fold the overhang from the bottom crust over and press to seal
Bake the pie in the middle of the oven for 25 minutes. Reduce the temperature to 350 degrees and bake the pie for 25 to 30 minutes more, or until the crust is golden. Let the pie cool on a rack.
Basic 3-2-1 Pie Dough
Basic pie dough is often called 3-2-1 dough because it contains 3 parts flour, 2 parts fat and 1 part water by weight. The less you work the butter into the flour the more flaky your crust will be.
15 ounces sifted flour
10 ounces unsalted butter, cut into cubes and chilled
5 ounces water, ice cold
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons sugar
Place your flour, sugar and salt into an electric mixing bowl with a paddle attachment.
Add the very cold butter cubes to the bowl and mix on low speed to cut in the butter.
Once the flour becomes mealy, add the water all at once and allow it to mix only until it just forms into a rough dough.
Be sure not to overwork the dough or it will become tough.
Turn the dough out, divide it into 2 even rounds and wrap with plastic wrap and chill.
Once the dough is cold, you can roll it out onto a lightly floured surface and roll the first one out to 13-inch round for your pie dish.
Cinnamon and Brown Sugar Ice cream
2- 1/2 cups heavy cream
1-3/4 cups whole milk
1/2 cup light brown sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 vanilla bean, split and scrape the seeds into the bowl
1/4 teaspoon finely ground sea salt
Place all ingredients into a large mixing bowl. Using a electric mixer, or hand-held mixer, mix at low speed until all ingredients are incorporated. Then increase the speed a bit and mix until frothy.
Into your ice cream machine's frozen churning tub, pour the mixture and churn for 15-18 minutes, or until mixture resembles soft-serve ice cream. Your machine may take longer.
Using a rubber spatula, quickly turn ice cream into a freezer container. I prefer to use a wide container and pour the mixture in 2 inches thick because the ice cream freezes more quickly this way. Freeze for 2-4 hours or until frozen solid.
Chef David Meador, executive chef at Renaissance on 9th, can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org