Hopefully the thought of using lard for pie crust doesn't give you a stroke!! Unfortunately, it probably does.... Sadly, we've been misled into believing that hydrogenated shortening or even commercial butter is healthier than lard, but that is not the case!! Lard from a conscientious farmer is far safer to eat than commercial butter, and most definitely better than shortening (please, please, please toss that hydrogenated shortening!!).
Since I volunteered to bring pies for Thanksgiving dinner tomorrow, I decided it was high time to make the switch to using lard in my pie crusts.
Oh my word, the dough handles beautifully - I couldn't believe it! The dough seemed to know exactly what to do and happily cooperated.
And, look at the way the lard is wonderfully marbled throughout the dough - that's what gives the crust its flaky texture.
OK, here's the recipe - too simple!
8 or 9" Single Crust:
1 c. flour
1/2 t. sea salt
1/3 c. lard, chilled*
2 T. water
9" Double Crust:
2 c. flour
1 t. sea salt
2/3 c. lard, chilled*
1/4 c. water
Mix flour and salt in a bowl. Cut in lard with pastry blender until small pea-size particles are obtained. Sprinkle with water a little at a time. Mix with fork until flour is moist. Press into a ball and turn out onto a floured board. If making a two-crust pie, divide dough in half.
Roll out with rolling pin. Take care not to use too much extra flour because it can make the crust tough. Roll out to desired size, usually about 1" larger than pie pan. Fold pastry in half and transfer to pan. Unfold and place pasty into pan. Try not to stretch the pastry so that it doesn't shrink while baking.
Follow baking instructions for your particular pie recipe.
*Note: I bought my lard at Shady Acres, but since then I've discovered Rooster St. Provisions in Elizabethtown. Rooster St. sells "leaf lard", a higher quality lard from a specific part of the pig which is especially nice for baking since it doesn't have much of a meaty smell.
I store my lard in the freezer. To make access quick and easy for pie crust baking, I measure out 1/3 c. portions and freeze it individually. That way, I can simply pull out what I need the night before and let it thaw in the refrigerator.