Rhubarb is technically a vegetable, but we treat it as a fruit. For many people it’s an acquired taste, and it is only through my wife’s gentle cajoling over many years of recipe trials that finally won me over. Now we grow our own rhubarb and I can barely wait each year for the plant’s red stalks to signal their presence. If you don’t grow your own rhubarb, many farmers and supermarkets offer it through the summer months. One of rhubarb’s best uses is in pies, and in old cookbooks rhubarb is affectionately referred to as “pie plant.” I’ve made many rhubarb pies over the years, and the recipe here is one of the best and easiest I know.
I first read the recipe, submitted by Barbara Maggs of Cle Elum, WA, in an issue of Relish Magazine, and it sounded so good I ran out to our garden and harvested the rhubarb. Because there is a generous amount of filling, you’ll need a deep-dish 9-inch ovenproof pie plate. Mine is Pyrex, but anchor Hocking makes an excellent one, too. I’ve modified Ms. Maggs’ instructions slightly.
The crust is oil-based and mixed easily with a fork to a crumbly consistency.
Fill the pie by altering layers of sugar and rhubarb and sprinkle the top layer of rhubarb with a streusel topping.
Even in a deep dish pie plate, the pie juices often bubble over in spots. That’s one of the reasons you bake the pie on a baking sheet. Cool completely, then refrigerate for an hour or two (or longer) before serving.
1/1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour (spoon flour into dry measuring cups; level off. 6 3/4 ounces by weight)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon sugar
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 tablespoons milk
2 cups sugar
6 tablespoons all-purpose flour
¼ teaspoon salt
6 cups diced, unpeeled rhubarb (1 ½ pounds, cut into 1/4- to 1/2-inch dice)
1/4 cup chilled butter, cut into small pieces
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees with heavy baking sheet on lowest rack.
2. To prepare the pastry, mix flour with salt and sugar in a large bowl. Pour in vegetable oil and milk. Mix well with a fork. Transfer to a deep-dish pie pan (MUST be deep dish) and press with fingers to spread evenly over bottom and up sides of pan. Do the sides first to make sure you make the sides reach the rim of the pan, then press remaining pastry on pan bottom.
3. To prepare the filling, combine the sugar, flour, and salt. Sprinkle one-third evenly into pie crust. Scatter 2 cups of rhubarb over sugar mixture. Repeat twice more, ending with rhubarb.
4. To prepare the topping, mix butter, sugar and flour with a pastry blender or your hands or a food processor until crumbly. Sprinkle evenly over rhubarb. Pan will be very full.
5. Bake 30 minutes at 400 degrees; reduce temperature to 375 degrees and bake 30 to 40 minutes more, or until filling is very bubbly and topping is golden brown. Pie juices may bubble over onto the baking sheet. Cool completely to room temperature, then refrigerate an hour or two to make sure filling is set. Serve as is or with ice cream.
Makes 10 servings.