Friday, October 7, 2011

Two Pies, One Pie Hole

Did that creep you out? I’m sorry. Let me start over.

Last week was my brother from another mother’s birthday. We’re not really related, but we have been friends since we were 7. Every year on my birthday, he likes to sing me a little song:

Merry Christmas, happy fourth of Ju-ly
Hope you like your happy birthday bean pie.

I don’t know where it’s from – I think it’s from some show from the CW, but since I didn’t have cable for a good half-decade, I must have missed that one. So this year, for Myrick’s birthday, I decided to bake him a bean pie.

Weird side note; did you know bean pies are Muslim? Did you know there is a faction of Muslims that walk around Baltimore’s North Avenue selling them? Because I didn’t. All I know is, when I looked up a recipe, it said, “Navy Bean Pie (Muslim).” But somehow everyone I mentioned bean pie to seemed to be in the know about where to get one – “oh yeah, go down to North Avenue.”

So I used this recipe, but after having done it, I’d make some changes. I’ll get to those in a sec. If you’ve never had bean pie before, think pumpkin pie, but heartier, less gelatinous, and more fiber.

But wouldn’t you know, my pie-makin hankerin still wasn’t satisfied, so I decided to finally try that Concord grape pie recipe everyone’s been talking about. So I rounded up my boo, poured him some beer, and coerced him into helping me peel and seed 2 lbs. of grapes. Sidenote: it took about an hour. Other sidenote: it was a juicy, sticky mess.

The pie was great, if not a few touches too sweet, but it wasn’t until the next day that I saw a blog post with a recipe for Thomchord grape pie. Well, I failed to mention that my local grocery store had Thomchord grapes, not Concord, so I substituted them, and wouldn’t you know that with Thomchord grapes, you can leave the skins and seeds intact? One hour, wasted. But maybe not entirely wasted, because I found my new favorite pie crust.

The pie crust recipe, unmodified:

2 1/2 cups flour
1 tsp. salt
18 tbsp. chilled unsalted butter, cut into small pieces (don’t freak out – it is worth it, I promise)

Whisk flour and salt together in a large bowl. Using a pastry cutter or 2 table knives, work butter into flour until mixture resembles coarse meal. Sprinkle in up to 10 tbsp. ice water, stirring dough with a fork until it just holds together. Press dough into a rough ball, then transfer to a lightly floured surface. Give dough several quick kneads until smooth. Divide dough into 2 balls, one slightly larger than the other, wrap each in plastic wrap, and refrigerate for 2 hours.#

*I halved this recipe and it was still great. It was easy enough to halve.
#I refrigerated one crust overnight, and rolled one out after about 20 minutes of refrigeration. Both were great, no problems with either. Oh, and I like to roll crust out between two sheets of waxed paper. Try it!

And my modifications to the bean pie recipe:

1 unbaked 9-inch pie shell (I suggest the above recipe, halved. I also suggest a butter-induced coma, so take my advice with a pinch of salt)
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1 cup evaporated milk
2 cups cooked and mashed navy beans (did you know baby lima beans are the same thing? You’re so smart. You only need to cook ½ lb of dry to get 2 cups of cooked, but I bet you already knew that, too. I didn’t!)
3/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
½ teaspoon nutmeg (holy spicy – I cut this amount in half. A teaspoon was far too much)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ginger
1/4 teaspoon cloves (also halved – we’re not making mulled cider here, people!)

First of all, you want to soak your beans. I did mine overnight – you want to soak ½ lb of dried beans in 2-3 cups of water. Drain them the next day and then carefully boil them in 3 cups or so of water until tender. It took me about 40 minutes, but again, I did double the amount I was supposed to. Mmm, beans for breakfast.

Then you wanna mash those suckers. I used a potato masher, but next time I will put them in a food processor. The skins distracted me from the deliciousness of the pie a bit. Make sure you have 2 cups!

Preheat your oven to 425 degrees.

Combine eggs and evaporated milk in a bowl, or the bowl of a stand mixer. Add beans, sugar and all spices. Beat everything at a low speed until well blended. Pour the batter into your unbaked pie shell – you already rolled it out, right?! Don't panic. Do that now, the batter can wait.

Bake the pie at 425 degrees for 15 minutes, and then reduce the heat to 350 degrees and bake for another 35 minutes, or until a knife inserted in center comes out clean.

Enjoy! I want to make both of these pies for Thanksgiving. If you make either, let me know what you think!