Through the course of my writings, and for those who have the chance to taste what I make, you all will learn several things about me; good ol’ Chef Kevin. First and foremost I LOVE to teach people about what I do. So feel free to let me know if this gets a little too technical. If you think reading about how I make something is bad, try being in the kitchen with me while I’m teaching you how to make something. The explanations tend to get a lot longer in person.
One of the first things you’ll hear me proclaim if you’ve ever been within ear shot of me in a kitchen and the topic of baking comes up is this: I. Do. Not. Bake. It’s not an ego thing, or a chauvinistic thing, or even an abilities thing. It IS that I’m not very good at it, and that is where I’ll admit my ego kicks in. As a chef I don’t want to attempt something that I know has a VERY high chance of having a disastrous result.
There are several things that I know that I can produce in a bakery setting and consistently have a wonderful outcome. Those items are; Custards, Breads, and Pies. This brings us to the topic of my post today, Strawberry Pie!
There are three methods of making a fruit filling for a pie. They are the cooked juice method, cooked fruit method, and the old-fashioned method. Each of these methods are great for specific pies and can be interchanged depending on what type of filling you want to make. Trust me when I say you do not want to use the cooked fruit method when making blueberry pie, unless of course you like more of a blueberry puree for your filling. Okay, enough of the rambling – on to the good stuff!
For this recipe you’re going to need:
3 pounds of fresh strawberries
2 cups of granulated sugar
¾ stick of butter
¾ teaspoon of cornstarch
1 teaspoon of lemon juice
Pinch of salt
Dash of cinnamon
Once you have all of your ingredients and gear gathered, here is what you do:
Start by quartering your strawberries, the fastest way I have found is to cut the tops off and quarter them, putting them in the large mixing bowl as go. After you have all the berries cut, sprinkle ½ a cup of sugar over them.
This is called macerating. The sugar starts to draw the juice from the strawberries. In your small mixing bowl, put the other 1 ½ cups of sugar and 1 teaspoon of cornstarch, mix the two together, and set it to the side.
Grab your large skillet and place it on a medium-high flame and add your ¾ stick of butter.
Let the butter melt completely, add your strawberries, and make sure you scrape the bowl to get all of the juice and any un-dissolved sugar.
After your berries have been cooking for 3-4 minutes, add the sugar-cornstarch mixture and stir until it is completely dissolved.
Once the juice/sugar-starch mixture starts to boil, turn the fire to a medium-low and allow the liquid to reduce. This is where you add the teaspoon of lemon juice, the pinch of salt, and the dash of cinnamon.
While your filling is reducing, give your pie plate a quick but thorough spray with the non-stick pan spray, and place your pie crust inside. Now I know what you’re thinking: “Chef Kevin you didn’t give use the recipe for pie crust!” You’re right I didn’t because I CHEATED! That’s right folks I went to my local mega-market and BOUGHT a premade pie crust……..in a box………….and that box came with TWO pie crusts, and each one was wrapped in plastic. I cannot top what Pillsbury™ does in the pie crust department.
Now that your filling is nice and reduced, give it a little sample. BEWARE: it is going to be molten-lava (not talking about the cake) hot. If it is too tart, add a little extra sugar. If it is too sweet, hit it with a little more lemon juice. Follow the instructions on the packaging for the temperature to heat your oven. The pie crust I used said to pre-heat the oven to 425°. While the oven is heating, turn off the flame under the skillet and pour the filling into the crust and again make sure that you scrape all the leftovers into the pie as well. Note: Gentlemen, If you are wanting to surprise your spouse, significant other, mom, or whoever with this pie here is a little hint. As soon as you get the pie in the oven wash that skillet and everything else you dirtied. Matter of fact why not clean the whole kitchen? This will achieve two things: 1) They’ll be surprised and thankful, and 2) You won’t get that disappointed look because you allowed a juice, sugar/cornstarch solution to cool and harden in a skillet. (Trust me, I got reaction number two)
Now that the pie is filled, it’s ready to go in to the oven, right? Wrong! We gotta cover that delicious filling so it doesn’t become a charred mess. Place the second pie crust from the package on top of the filling, make sure the edges of the bottom and the top crust line up, then gently press them together. Don’t worry if the crusts aren’t touching everywhere. It’s gonna be okay. Cut four slits in the top crust for venting. Again refer to the packaging for the cook time. The pie crusts instructions said to bake it for 30 minutes, for instance. Here is another VERY helpful hint to use when making a fruit filled pie: put the pie on a cookie sheet before you put the pie in the oven. This is done in case you have any boil-over and instead of pie filling charring to the bottom and racks of your oven it just gets on the cookie sheet and is a lot easier to clean up, again trust me.