The best part of Thanksgiving is apple pie. I understand this is a serious debate; some people crave the turkey, some people go nuts for mashed potatoes. Some people even like talking politics with their drunk uncles.
For me, it’s apple pie. My grandma’s apple pie. It’s one of two desserts I want to eat with my last meal on earth. The other is my mom’s apple pie, which is different, and which I’ll post about separately.
Thanksgiving is about family, so indulge me for a second:
My great-grandmother couldn’t cook for shit; when my grandma gave birth for the first time, she begged the baby nurse (which was a thing!) to teach her how to cook, clean, and run a household. This pie is the best surviving recipe from that saint of a woman. It’s a story we tell every single year. It’s something for everyone to fight over the day after Thanksgiving. In her old age, it’s something Grandma can lean on for conversation, a way she can relate to us, a joy she feels she can uniquely provide for the people she cares most for in the world.
So, this apple pie is the best part of Thanksgiving.
This is the first year Grandma could only manage to bake one, so my sister, my cousin and I tried it for the first time yesterday. It’s not quite Grandma’s apple pie. When she tried it at the table, she said, “not my best work, but it’ll do,” thinking she’d made it herself. Coming from her, that’s incredibly high praise.
We have a ton to learn still, but if we can even approach her level, we’re gonna be all right.
6-8 large apples of 3-4 different varieties. Pick your favorites; your main man likes Cortlands, Granny Smiths, Galas, Envies – anything with a lot of sharp flavor, cuz there’s definitely enough sugar in here to provide the sweet.
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup white sugar
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
a pinch of salt
1-2 tablespoons of butter, in chunks
2 pie crusts – (we cheat and use pillsbury, but you can fairly easily make your own – follow a 1 stick of butter / one egg / 1 cup of flour ratio, and add 1/2 a cup of sugar if you want a bit more sweetness. I’ll post more detail in a future apple pie recipe. I love apple pie).
-Peel the apples.
-Slice the apples thinly. Very thinly. I like mixing up the width and length so the filling isn’t uniform and not every bite is the same, but keep the slices thin, thin thin.
-Mix the sugar, cinnamon, and nutmeg in a bowl.
-Mix the apples in a giant bowl – sprinkling them with a 2-3 spoonfuls of the sugar mixture.
-Roll out the pie crust and place it in a 9” pie pan. Press it so it sticks tightly to the frame of the pan.
-On top of the pie crust, arrange 1/4 of the apples one-by-one (it makes a difference) until you’ve got a layer of uniform height. Sprinkle the sugar mixture over the apples until they are thoroughly coated.
-Repeat in 3-4 layers until the apples and sugar are gone.
-Throw a couple chunks of butter over the top layer of apples – a little butter never hurt nobody. It will drip down and coat all of them on the way to the bottom.
-Dab your fingers with water to connect the second pie crust all the way around. Pinch it and twist it in a pattern so that it bakes into a nice, crunchy crust. Damn, I’m hungry.
-Sprinkle the crust with cinnamon, nutmeg and brown sugar. Hell, throw some butter on there, go crazy.
-Make a few thin slices into the pie crust to let the steam out. And to make it pretty.
-Bake at 435 for 15-20 minutes.
-Drop the temperature to 375 for 20-30 minutes.
Let it cool, then eat that shit up! I like it best cold and plain, or hot with way too much ice cream.