I noticed on a few boards in the last year that several people make good pies. I also pride myself on my pies, mostly because of the crust (my fillings are very simple fruit with no sugar-- I like not-too sweet).
I was chatting with two guys at work who also believe they make the. best. pies. We all passionately disagreed on the approach, though.
One guy insists on a particular brand of lard. The other guy swears by his food processor. I say they're both wrong.
I'd love to hear your techniques and ingredients for great pies, ESPECIALLY the crust. Here's mine:
I use salted butter, and *barely* combine the ingredients by hand. The butter and my hands are both as cold as I can stand. I cut the butter into cubes (I get about 32 cubes per stick) and toss the cubes in flour. Then I pick up each cube and "pinch" or "smear" it into 2 pieces, re-coat with flour, then pinch each of those pieces into another 2 pieces. The process of pinching them makes them kind of like little leaves of butter that are coated with flour. I then pick up the pile of leaves and press them into the pie plate for the bottom-crust or onto parchment paper for the top-crust (using maybe a spritz of water if I need it to make things stick). I always pre-bake the bottom crust since my fruit fillings get so wet.
As for the fillings: I'm still figuring that part out. I like to use Granny Smith apples, no sugar, mounded as high as I possibly can.
I want to try: King Arthur's flour. I've heard it is great for pie crust (I think I read something about it having a higher protein content than most US flours, making it good for baking, maybe?)
Will you share your techniques?