Rhubarb is a plant that thrives 'round these parts, and almost everyone I know bakes with it. (Except my ma. She's not a fan, and she's yanked it out of every yard that she's owned.)
I didn't taste rhubarb until I was 22. The hubby (then a boyfriend) and I had visited his parents, and he mentioned that he'd really like a strawberry-rhubarb pie. I figured this was my shot to prove to him what a good little wifey I'd be someday, so I said, "Hey, no problem, I'll do it!"
This was good in theory. In application, I had never before baked any sort of pie, nor did I have the slightest inkling what rhubarb even looked like underneath its covering of leaves. But I dug this recipe out of the bowels of a Betty Crocker cookbook, and then proceeded to stare at the pile of rhubarb that my hopefully soon-to-be mother-in-law sent home with us. Finally, I caved and called her. She gave me two pieces of advice:
- Don't eat the leaves. (I found this surprising. I thought that was the part of the rhubarb you were supposed to eat.) Apparently the leaves are inedible. Or maybe poisonous. Yes, those are two different concepts. In either case, don't eat the leaves.
- Peel the outside layer of the rhubarb. The outside is the toughest and dirtiest part, but it peels off very easily in long ribbons, leaving the clean, more tender stalk exposed.
I gave it a whirl, and baked my first pie. Lo and behold, it turned out fabulous. The hubby thought it one of the best strawberry-rhubarb pies he'd ever tasted. This pie might be the reason he proposed, and it definitely is the reason he bought a rhubarb plant when we bought our first house. We dream of this pie each spring.Strawberry-Rhubarb Pie
3 c. rhubarb (about 5-7 stalks)
3 c. strawberries (about 1 lb.)
2 c. sugar
2/3 c. flour
1 Tbsp. butter
Pastry for a double-crust pie
1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Clean and peel your rhubarb.
I just discovered that not everyone does this. Which is OK, I think. But I'll stick with my method. My mother-in-law does it. Guy Fieri does it. That's good enough for me.
2. Chop rhubarb into about 1/2" pieces.
Chopping rhubarb reminds me of chopping celery. Just thought I'd mention that.
3. Clean and hull your strawberries, and chop them into similar-sized pieces.
4. Combine rhubarb and strawberries with flour and sugar.
Rhubarb stalks -- even from the same plant -- can vary quite a bit in terms of how sweet or sour they are. (I think earlier rhubarb is sweeter.) I try to use some greener and some redder stalks, but it's a bit of a crapshoot; every pie turns out a bit different. It's a surprise every time!
5. Press bottom crust into a 9" pie plate, and pour filling mixture in. Dot with butter.
6. Place top crust on pie and crimp the edges. Cut slits in the top of the pie, and cover the edges with foil.
I have a Pie Crust Shield. I love it.
I also have a pie gate. I'm oddly protective of my pie.
7. Bake pie for 50-55 minutes, and let cool complete before serving. (I usually refrigerate it for a while before serving, too, just to help it set up. And because I grew up in a household where we refrigerated pies.)