Magnolia vinegar and brown butter pie from South.
South by Sean Brock.
Our cookbook of the week is South by Sean Brock, founder of Husk restaurants and chef-owner of two upcoming restaurants in Nashville, Tenn. Tomorrow, we’ll feature an interview with its author.
Made using very few readily available ingredients, Sean Brock sees this so-called desperation pie “as an opportunity to play with (his) vinegar collection.” During lean times when local fruits were out of season, creative cooks came up with the custom of using vinegar to fill the void.
“There’s a tradition of vinegar pies, which some people even call shoofly pies (made with molasses) or a form of chess pie (little else than flour, butter, sugar and eggs),” says Brock, adding that without access to fresh fruit, “people started inventing an expected element, a sharpness.”
Especially popular during the Great Depression, vinegar pie has a subtle sweetness and tangy acidity similar to that of a lemon pie, minus the fresh citrus juice. Setting this version apart is Brock’s use of brown butter, which adds toasty toffee notes, and Lindera Farms Magnolia Vinegar . “It reminds me of a grandmother’s perfume,” he says of the latter’s floral flavours.
While magnolia vinegar is unique, you could follow Brock’s lead and experiment with your own homemade vinegars in the recipe, or, he suggests, use a high-quality apple cider vinegar in its stead.
MAGNOLIA VINEGAR AND BROWN BUTTER PIE
1 recipe Flaky Piecrust dough (recipe follows), chilled
2 tbsp (30 mL) all-purpose flour, plus more for rolling out the dough
8 tbsp (1 stick/120 mL) unsalted butter
1 cup (250 mL) sugar
3/4 cup (175 mL) water
3 large eggs
3 tbsp (45 mL) Lindera Farms Magnolia Vinegar or apple cider vinegar
1 tbsp (15 mL) grated lemon zest
Preheat the oven to 350°F (177°C).
If the dough has been refrigerated overnight, let it soften a little at room temperature before rolling it out. Place the dough on a lightly floured work surface. Lightly flour your rolling pin and start rolling the dough gently from the centre out. Do this a few times, then pick up the dough, rotate it a quarter turn and roll again. Continue to roll, rotating the dough and flouring the work surface and the dough as needed, until you have a 12-inch (30-cm) circle approximately 1/8 inch (3 mm) thick.
Loosely fold the dough into quarters and unfold it in a 9-inch (23-cm) pie pan. Gently fit it into the bottom and up the sides of the pan. Trim the dough, leaving an overhang of about 1/2 inch (1.25 cm) around the edges. Fold the excess under and crimp the edges: With one hand on the inside of the rim and the other hand on the outside, use the index finger of your inside hand to push the dough between the thumb and index finger of your outside hand to form a V shape. Repeat all around the rim. Refrigerate the crust for 10 minutes.
Line the crust with parchment paper and fill it with an even layer of dried beans or pie weights. Place the crust on a rimmed baking sheet and bake for 15 minutes. Remove the crust from the oven and remove the beans or weights and the parchment. Prick the bottom of the crust a few times with a fork. Return it to the oven and bake for about 20 minutes more, until it is golden brown and appears baked. Cool completely before filling.
Heat the butter in a small saucepan over medium heat, stirring, until it is golden brown and starts to smell slightly nutty, about 9 minutes. Strain the butter through a fine-mesh sieve into a small bowl and set aside. Discard the solids. You’ll need 2 tablespoons (30 mL) of brown butter for this recipe. (It’s difficult to make a smaller amount of brown butter successfully; the extra butter can be used for a simple dish of pasta with butter, drizzled over eggs, served with seared fish, or employed in myriad other ways.) Transfer the rest to a container, cool to room temperature, cover and refrigerate. (Tightly covered, the brown butter will keep for up to 2 weeks in the refrigerator.)
Combine the sugar, water, eggs, vinegar, and flour in the top of a double boiler and whisk to mix well. Fill the bottom of the double boiler with water, set over low heat and insert the top. The water should not touch the bottom of the top and should never be hotter than a simmer. Cook the mixture, whisking frequently, until it is thickened and smooth and registers 180°F (82°C) on an instant-read thermometer, about 45 minutes. Remove from the stove and stir in the 2 tablespoons (30 mL) brown butter and the lemon zest.
Pour the filling into the prepared piecrust and refrigerate for at least 6 hours or up to overnight to set before serving.
Slice the pie and serve chilled. Tightly cover any leftovers and refrigerate for up to 3 days.
1 1/3 cups (325 mL) all-purpose flour, plus more for the work surface
1 tsp (5 mL) kosher salt
10 tbsp (1 1/4 sticks/150 mL) unsalted butter, diced and refrigerated
1/4 cup (60 mL) ice water
Combine the flour and salt in a medium bowl. Add the butter and, using your fingers, cut the butter into the flour mixture until the pieces are about the size of small peas. Drizzle in the ice water, mixing it in with your hands until the dough just comes together.
Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface and gather it into a ball. You should still see pieces of butter, and you want to work quickly to keep the butter cold. Flatten the dough into a disk about 1 inch (2.5 cm) thick, wrap in plastic wrap and let rest in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour or up to overnight before using. Wrapped in plastic wrap, the dough will keep for up to 3 days in the refrigerator. Stored in a freezer bag, the wrapped disk of dough can be frozen for up to 3 months. Thaw it in the refrigerator and let it soften a little before rolling it out.
Makes: Enough dough for 1 single-crust 9-inch (23-cm) pie or 10-inch (25-cm) deep-dish pie
Excerpted from South by Sean Brock (Artisan Books). Copyright © 2019. Photographs by Peter Frank Edwards. Used with permission from the publisher.
Copyright Postmedia Network Inc., 2019