Chow Kim Frizzelle’s Never-Before-Revealed Apple Pie Recipe (Confidential to Mom: Obama Made Me Do It)
posted by February 20 at 15:48 PMon
Look at that. That’s an apple pie. It is one of the few things I know how to do in a kitchen. A friend of mine who’s a food critic, and a huge fan of this pie, says that if aliens came to Earth in search of the perfect apple pie, the most ideal, the apple pie qua apple pie, this is the one they would settle on and study and transport home. If I don’t say so myself, it’s motherfucking delicious.
Since I cannot do anything else worthwhile in a kitchen, the recipe has gained the status of a state secret. I’ve never given it out. This particular specimen sitting on the window sill in my kitchen was photographed this past Thanksgiving with my cell phone, as I fully intended to put up the recipe on Slog as a kind of holiday gift to Slog readers of the world, and then I just sort of didn’t get around to it. It’s not that I don’t want Slog readers in Singapore and Sydney and Spokane and wherever else Slog readers live to be able to make this—I do!—I just don’t want my friends to be able to make this. Because, then, what will I have that’s mine? Over Thanksgiving I took not only this picture but pictures of the whole process of making the thing, to illustrate the process for you so you know you’re doing it right, and the photos have just been sitting on my desktop, waiting.
I don’t know if it’s because we’ve had a couple beautiful days of weather or because I have Obama fever or what, but I decided this morning: Now is the time. I decided: It’s morning in America. Yeah, I realize it’s afternoon. But it will be morning again tomorrow, and apple pie is the best breakfast there is. Without further ado:
I. Go to the store and get (or make sure you have) 6-8 Granny Smith apples (tart, green); sugar; flour; cinnamon; nutmeg; unsalted butter; lemon juice; salt; a tub of shortening; and cold water. (Tap water is fine.) That’s all you need.
II. Preheat oven at 400 degrees.
III. Sift 2 cups flour and 1 tsp salt together in a medium-sized bowl. Then plop 2/3 cups shortening into the flour/salt mixture and use two butter knives to cut in the shortening. You do this by crossing the knives, scissors-like, and chopping the shortening apart into smaller and smaller pieces, every little piece coated in flour/salt. Eventually you’ll have a bowl full of rubble—tiny little balls of flour/salt-coated shortening, the largest of them the size of peas. (While this dough looks delicious, it is not delicious.) In case you’re wondering, this crust is this recipe’s only secret, its only departure from lots of other recipes you’ll find out there: no butter in the crust.
IV. Pour one tablespoon of cold water over a section of the rubble. Then scoop out that section and use the moisture to form a larger ball. You’ll do this seven times until you have seven larger balls total. When you’re done with each ball, set it aside on a small plate. Here I am about halfway through.
V. When you have seven of these, combine them into two larger balls. One of them will be slightly bigger than the other, naturally. Knead them and even out the texture and coat them in flour and put them in the fridge. (You can cover them in saran wrap or put them in plastic baggies.) They don’t HAVE to be refrigerated while you do the next step, but that’s how the Frizzelle’s do it.
VI. Combine one cup of sugar, 2 tblspns of flour, 1 tsp cinnamon, and a dash of nutmeg in a small bowl. Mix together and set aside.
VII. Slice up the apples. (I cut each apple by cutting off the top and the bottom, slicing off the skin with a knife, and coring it. Then I slice it in two and then chop up each half into thin slices.) When you have a bowl full of apple slices, douse them in the tblspn of lemon juice and make sure they’re evenly coated. Then pour the sugar/flour/cinnamon/nutmeg mixture on top of them and mix them up until each slice is coated. (These coated slices of apples are delicious and you should eat as many as you like.)
VIII. Grease your glass pie pan in shortening and then take out the two crust dough balls from the fridge. Roll out the slightly larger of the two balls and then place it into the glass pie pan. You want to make sure there is plenty of dough on all sides. It looks like this:
IX. Pour the sliced apples in. Since the shape of the pile of apple slices will determine how the top crust sits, make the apple slices slightly taller in the center and shorter around the edge. Like so:
X. Divide two tablespoons of butter into four or five little chunks of butter and scatter them around the top of the apples. Then roll out the second ball of dough and place it on top of the butter and apples. Then, dip your finger in cold water and run it along the edge where the top crust meets the bottom crust and pinch the two together—all the way around. (The water seals the bond, the pinching makes a pretty shape.) Slice three slits in the top of the pie, sort of like the three spokes of the Mercedes Benz logo, except don’t let these slits intersect in the center. (I don’t have a better photo of this, alas, and Google image search comes up with nothing helpful. More than three slits is ugly. Don’t do this. Or this.) Then dust the very top with sugar—this will make the texture look great when it comes out of the oven.
XI. Bake for 50 minutes at 400 degrees. When it comes out, let it cool for at least 20 minutes before you touch it. Next to a window. Preferably with a view.
Let’s just look at it one more time.