Pie of the Week: Strawberry Rhubarb
It's easy to see why strawberry rhubarb pie is one of the most coveted flavors for pie-lovers and bakers. Beside the fact that sweet, sun-kissed strawberries pair perfectly with tart, crisp rhubarb sweetened with just enough sugar, there is something magnificent about a pie for which nature makes us wait so patiently each year. The sight of rhubarb in the spring markets signals the promise of great things to come. By the time strawberries hit, rhubarb is on the decline, allowing us a window of just weeks (at least for those on the East Coast) to enjoy the two together.
To get the best rhubarb possible, look for stalks that are crisp and juicy on the inside, and firm and rigid on the outside. Much like celery, peak rhubarb should be firm and not bend or flex. The best stalks are a deep pink color at the bottom, that bleeds into green up towards the leaves. Do not be alarmed if the stalks are dirty, just be sure to wash them thoroughly, right before using. For the best strawberries, look for ripe, bright red berries that have not started to shrivel. Try to avoid buying containers that have rotting berries or juices on the bottom, as it's a sign that some of the berries have started to decay. Store the berries in sealable containers lined with paper towels, in single layers if possible. Keep them in the fridge until you are ready to use them, and only wash them right before use.
When preparing the produce for filling, wash it thoroughly and pat it dry. To make the most of the strawberries, which tend to be very expensive, core them (use a pairing knife to vertically cut around the leaves and stem) to remove the very top, rather than just chopping off the top of each berry. When chopping the rhubarb, aim to cut uniform, half-inch pieces to ensure even cooking.
To make your own strawberry rhubarb pie, first click over to get in-depth and fear-free instructions for making Easy Pie Dough (be sure to make a double crust for this pie). Then, check out my simple recipe for strawberry rhubarb filling, which includes macerating the strawberries and rhubarb and draining off some of the liquid first, which reduces the amount of starch you'll need as a thickener, delivering flavor that is pure and true.