Here’s an idea. Since this Thanksgiving is going to be necessarily smaller, probably weird and definitely unique, maybe we take a different approach. Maybe we bag the turkey and the hassle of all those sides, cut to the chase and make it all about pie.
I know…ain’t gonna happen. Once everybody gets themselves swabbed for COVID before showing up, they’re going to deserve a proper feast for the effort.
But for some of us, it’s still all about pie. For a new take on it this year, I highly suggest Pilgrim Pie, AKA the cranberry curd tart that has been all over the Internet. It’s kind of like a lemon meringue pie but with cranberries and without the meringue. With the toasted nut crust it definitely becomes it’s own thing.
This version is a hybrid of the one that appeared recently in the New York Times and the one in the Hannaford flyer. It is the best of both recipes. As a bonus, I sifted through the hundreds of comments on the NY Times one (you’re welcome, and…damn those readers have a lot to say!) and assimilated the complaints and suggestions into hacks and options. Because it took me three pies to get a decent photo, I got a lot of practice with all my tweaks.
Bottom line: Make this pie! I know you need pumpkin and apple and pecan and maybe mincemeat for that one person who insists it is edible. I feel your pain. But I urge you to dig deep. It’s Thanksgiving and we’re all hanging on by a thread. One thing you CAN handle is another pie.
Some notes: The nut crust is what really does it for me. I have tried it as written, with hazelnuts, and also with almonds and a mix of almonds and walnuts. Love the nut you’re with. For a healthier version the pecan coconut crust from knockout vegan pumpkin pie would also be divine, especially if you doubled it and made it super thick like this one.
The filling is strained through a sieve, and you will need a rubber spatula for this. Some rogue commenters didn’t bother straining the filling and said it was just fine that way, so if you’re the rustic type go for it. If you’re going for perfection, do scrape the sides of the pan periodically with that rubber spatula as it cooks, to keep the filling silky smooth .
That’s all. Happy Baking!
For the nut crust:
- 1 ¼ cups raw hazelnuts or sliced almonds.
- 1 cup flour (rice flour to go GF, sprouted wheat flour to be fancy)
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- ½ cup sugar
- 6 tablespoons softened butter
For the cranberry curd:
- 12 ounces cranberries (~3 cups)
- 1 cup plus 2 Tbsp sugar
- ½ cup water
- 1 tsp lemon zest
- ¼ cup fresh lemon juice
- ¼ tsp salt
- 2 large eggs plus 3 egg yolks
- 8 Tbsp unsalted butter (1 stick), cut into 8 chunks
- Make the crust: Heat oven to 325 degrees. If using hazelnuts, roast them on a baking sheet for 10 to 15 minutes, until skins darken and crack. Put roasted nuts in a clean towel and rub off skins. Discard skins and let nuts cool. For sliced almonds, 10 minutes of toasting ought to do it.
- In a food processor, grind nuts. Add the flour and salt and pulse together. Add the cut up butter and pulse until it hangs together when you squeeze a bit of it.
- Press dough evenly into the bottom and around sides of a 10-inch tart pan or 9-inch pie dish; Prick bottom with a fork and freeze for 30 minutes (or several days if desired).
- Heat oven to 350 degrees. Bake chilled tart shell about 15 minutes until lightly brown. Cool.
- While the crust bakes and cools, make the cranberry curd: Put cranberries, sugar, water and lemon zest in a saucepan over medium heat. Simmer until cranberries have popped and softened, about 10 minutes. Puree the cranberries in a food processor until smooth (careful here—they’re hot), wipe out the pan, then strain mixture through a fine-mesh sieve back into the saucepan, pressing on solids with a rubber spatula. Discard solids (or sneak them on toast to bide your time). You can also use an immersion blender to puree the mixture, then strain it into another saucepan.
- Combine eggs and egg yolks into a bowl and beat lightly. Slowly whisk 1/3 cup of the warm cranberry liquid into the eggs to temper, then pour eggs into the saucepan and whisk together.
- Cook over low heat, stirring constantly and scraping the sides and bottom with a rubber spatula until mixture has thickened and reaches 170 degrees (8-12 minutes if you, like me, can’t find that dang thermometer)
- Remove from heat, whisk in butter one chunk at a time until fully incorporated, then whisk in lemon juice.
- If using immediately, let cool to room temperature-ish. If working ahead, cool to room temperature, cover with plastic wrap (press wrap against curd) and refrigerate. (Curd may be cooked up to 1 day ahead.)
- Pour cooled cranberry curd into the cooled prebaked tart shell and smooth top with a spatula. Bake at 350 degrees for 10 minutes to set curd. Cool on a rack. Store at room temperature for up to 2 days.
- Serve topped with whipped cream.
Healthy it up a bit with the pecan coconut crust from this Vegan pumpkin pie.
Sub in orange zest and juice for the lemon zest and juice.
Go nutty and switch out the nuts with whatever turns your crank
That’s about all I’m going to mess with here. It’s darned near perfect.