Pie dough made with duck fat? Yes, please! Pie dough made with goose fat has a long tradition in Britain and Germany, and its neutral flavor compares favorably with pie crusts made with lard, which, as many pie aficionados know, makes the flakiest crusts.
The recipe that follows is a dough suitable for making a dessert pie. If you want to make a crust for a savory potpie, make the dough as directed, using ½ cup cold duck fat and ½ cup cold unsalted butter in place of the amounts given below.
The key to a flaky pie crust is to have everything very cold: fat, water, and in the case of this duck fat pastry, a chilled marble board, if possible.
- 2½ cups all-purpose flour, plus more for rolling
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- ¾ cup very cold unsalted butter, cut into ½ -inch cubes
- ¼ cup very cold duck fat
- 3 to 4 tablespoons ice-cold vodka
- 2 tablespoons ice water
- In a food processor, combine the flour, salt, and sugar and pulse to mix.
- Add the butter and duck fat and pulse 6 to 8 times, until the mixture looks like a coarse meal.
- Start adding the vodka, 1 tablespoon at a time, pulsing until the mixture just begins to clump together. If you compress some of the dough and it holds together, it’s ready. If the dough doesn’t hold together, add the water, 1 tablespoon at a time, pulsing until it does. Too much water will make the crust tough.
- Take dough out of the food processor and clump it together on a clean work surface. Divide the dough in half, and shape each half into a disk.
- Sprinkle a little flour around the disks, then wrap them separately in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 1 hour or up to 2 days.
- Remove a dough disk from the refrigerator. Let it sit at room temperature for 5 minutes, so it softens enough to roll out.
- Dust the work surface with flour, then roll out the dough into a 12-inch circle about 1/8 inch thick. As you roll out the dough, check to see if it is sticking to the work surface. If it is, add a bit of flour under the dough to keep it from sticking.
- Carefully roll the dough circle around the rolling pin, position the pin over a 9-inch pie plate, and unroll the dough, centering it on the pie plate. Gently press the dough into the bottom and up the sides of the pie plate. Using a pair of kitchen shears, trim the dough, leaving a ½-inch overhang. (If making an open pie, read the instructions on pre-baking below.)
- For a single-crust pie, roll the overhang under itself, then pinch the dough around the rim to create a fluted edge.
- To prebake the crust, preheat the oven to 425°F. Line the dough with a large piece of aluminum foil or parchment paper, and fill the lined crust with pie weights or dried beans.
- Bake for about 15 minutes, until dry to the touch. Carefully remove the weights and foil, turn the oven down to 350°F, return the crust to the oven, and continue baking for 20 to 30 minutes, until golden brown.
- Pour or spoon the filling into the crust. If you have partially baked the crust and the filling needs cooking, return the pie plate to the oven and bake according to individual recipe.
To prepare a double-crust pie
- Roll out the second dough disk the same way you rolled out the first disk. Pour or spoon the filling into the bottom crust, then gently place the second dough circle over the filling. Pinch the top and bottom dough circles together firmly along the rim. Using kitchen shears, trim the excess dough, leaving a 3/4-inch overhang. Holding the edge of the bottom pastry away from the rim, fold the overhang of the top pastry under it, creating an edge. Flute the edge using a thumb and index finger, or crimp with a fork. Cut 3 or 4 slits in the center of the top crust to allow steam to escape during baking. Bake as directed in individual recipes.
Hank Shaw is the author of the new book Duck, Duck, Goose (Ten Speed Press, 2013) and the James Beard award-winning blog Hunter Angler Gardener Cook.
Shaw has been featured on the Travel Channel’s Bizarre Foods, and his work has appeared in Food & Wine, Organic Gardening, Field & Stream, and The Art of Eating, as well as hunting and conservation magazines such as Delta Waterfowl, California Waterfowl Magazine, and Pheasants Forever.
He lives in the Sacramento, California area. You can learn more about him, and about his extensive tour cooking duck dinners across the US at honest-food.net.