I have been making Thanksgiving pies since I was 4 years old, apprenticing under my Nana. Here’s the easiest from-scratch recipe for an apple pie. I made it in little tartlet shells, but if you don’t want to fuss with that, you can use the exact same recipe in a regular tart or pie pan. The shells and filling are cooked separately, which lets you heat up the filling just before serving. That’s usually a hard feat to accomplish on Thanksgiving when the oven is in such high demand. Everything can be made in advance. Store shells in an airtight container. Makes 10 tartlets.
For the crust (a cross between Martha Stewart’s and Nana’s recipes):
2 1/2 c flour
1 T sugar
1/2 t sea salt
1 stick cold unsalted butter, cut into small chunks
1/2 c shortening, best if chilled in the refrigerator
1/3- 1/2 c ice water
1. Add flour, sugar and salt together in a food processor. Pulse to mix. Add butter and shortening (in chunks) and pulse about 3 times for 5 seconds each. You want to see the texture of sand, but don’t over work it. Tablespoon by tablespoon add the water, pulsing very briefly. As soon as the dough comes together a bit, it’s done. Quickly form 5 discs and wrap in plastic wrap. Chill at least 45 minutes.
2. Preheat oven to 375º. Lightly flour your work surface and roll out 1 disc to about 1/4 inch thickness, so it will fit 2 tartlet shells. Carefully set pastry in the shell, being careful not to stretch it. Roll the rolling pin on top of the shells to trim excess dough. Chill each tart as it is done. Repeat until complete.
3. Once all the tart shells have chilled for 30 minutes, arrange them on a baking sheet. Poke a few holes in the bottom with a fork. Place a piece of foil and some beans on top of the shells, so they are weighted while the bake. Bake 15 minutes. Remove foil and beans. Bake 5 more minutes or until crust begins to brown and pull away from the sides of the pan. Remove from oven. Cool in pans for 5 minutes, then remove from pan and cool completely on a rack. They can be stored at this point in an air-tight container.
For the filling:
5-6 apples (I like to use several varieties for a variable texture: Golden Delicious, Granny Smith and Honeycrisp)
1/2 c brown sugar
1 T flour (Wondra is my favorite)
juice of 1/2 lemon
1 t cinnamon
1/2 t freshly grated nutmeg
1. Peel and core all apples. Cut them into an even small dice.
2. Place all ingredients into a large pot or dutch oven over a medium flame, sprinkling the flour. Stir to coat everything evenly. Cook for about 15 minutes, until apples are soft. You can stop at this point and refrigerate if you’re working in advance.
3. Fill each shell with warm pie filling. Top with real whipped cream and dust with cinnamon. Enjoy!
Whew! That’s my last Thanksgiving recipe for you. Each of these recipes reflect a lot of care and effort on my part. I hope you try them and enjoy them with your loved ones. Happy Thanksgiving!