Counter-Intuitive Strawberry Rhubarb Pie

I know what you’re thinking: “What’s counter-intuitive about strawberries and rhubarb? They’re a natural match!” And you’re right—the two together are the all-time classic late spring duo. It’s the other portions of the pie that were a bit risky in the implementation, but paid off in the full, rounded flavor of the finished product.

I had some pie crust left over from a quiche that I had made a few days prior. All I had to do was thaw it and roll it out—almost like a ready-made crust, just that I did the work for myself ahead of time. Thing was, as a special touch for the quiche, I had made a curry crust. But, what the heck, I figured. Curry has cinnamon in it, along with several other spices; let’s give it a whirl!

Then, as I was tossing together the strawberries and the rhubarb, I got to thinking about the strawberry-basil combination that one sees every so often that is decent enough to keep it occasionally springing up. I’m not entirely sold on the combo myself, but that some people really dig it was just a short step away from me thinking about the possibilities of strawberries paired with my favorite herb: oregano. And so it was that I made a strawberry-rhubarb pie with oregano in a curry crust. That’s what I mean by counter-intuitive.

Strawberry-Rhubarb Pie with Oregano in a Curry Crust

Turn your oven to 450 F to preheat. Then, make a pie crust for a one crust pie, except in place of the extraneous spices suggested in my recipe, use a bit of curry powder instead. I wish I could offer more guidance than that, but the crust was something that I made just off the cuff & in a hurry, so I wasn’t measuring anything apart from my flour and butter. I didn’t even measure my water; I just went straight from the Brita until it looked right, and I was pleased to discover that after four years of making my own crusts, I’ve gotten to the point where I can just splash water in and have it come out correctly—which is encouragement for you to keep practicing your crusts even if you don’t think they come out perfectly: over time, the results improve; besides which, a poorly made homemade crust is preferable to a high-quality store bought crust because it shows an extra level of caring. If I had to guess, I’d say it was about 1/2 to 3/4 of a tablespoon of curry powder, but that’s just a guess. Refrigerate the crust dough while you mix the filling.

For the pie filling, core and slice 2 cups of strawberries in large chunks. Cut the ends from and then slice two cups of rhubarb. I cut my rhubarb into a variety of sizes so that it would cook down to various textures: the large (1/2-inch cube) chunks survive in somewhat solid form, the itty-bitty guys (sliver-thin slices) basically cook into the sauce and infuse their flavor, plus there’s a range in between. I’d go with about 1/4 total volume each the little tiny guys and the big boys, with the remaining half being moderately sized. Also, don’t be too concerned with having exactly two cups of each rhubarb and strawberries. If you’ve got a little more than that, what’s the worst that can happen? You wind up with a slightly bigger pie.

Pick the leaves from four stems worth of oregano. Cut it chiffonade–that means to roll the leaves up the long way (as a group) and then cut thin ribbons from them: as thinly as you can. Toss the chiffonade of oregano in with the strawberries and rhubarb.

Mix together 1/2 cup sugar, 1/4 cup flour, 2 tablespoons of cornstarch or arrowroot, and a pinch of salt. When these are well combined, add 1/2 cup of pure maple syrup and stir it in. Use a rubber spatula to help this sticky mixture out of the bowl you’ve mixed it in and over the fruit. Gently fold it into the strawberries and rhubarb until they are well coated. Set this mixture off to the side while you roll out your crust.

Roll the crust out thinly, so that you’ve got a decent amount of overlap over the edge of the pie plate. Lift up the edge of the crust with one hand and press it down into the bottom of the pie plate with the other. When it’s situated in the bottom of the pan, use a sharp knife to cut it at the lip of the pie plate. Don’t mash up the extra crust! You’re going to use this to form a patchwork top crust for the pie.

Spread the sugar and fruit mixture into the bottom crust. Dot it with a couple of tablespoons of butter cut into very small cubes. Then, spread out your pie crust trimmings the best you can and cut them into attractive, even-edged pieces. Arrange these pieces over the top of the pie with minimal gaps between them to be the top crust. Press the bottom crust down toward the filling and flute it if you would like. Beat one egg with a half a teaspoon of pure vanilla extract. Brush this mixture (or as much of it makes sense to use) over the crust. Sprinkle coarse turbinado sugar liberally over the egg-brushed crust. This will add a bit of sweetness to the curry crust while simultaneously browning nicely with sparkling sugar to become an attractive presentation.

Bake at 450 F for 10 minutes. Then, without opening the oven, turn the heat down to 350 F and bake for another 35-40 minutes or until the crust is golden brown and the filling is fully cooked. Let cool before slicing. The flour and cornstarch will help this pie to serve neatly while having neither a gelatinous nor starchy texture to detract from your enjoyment of these surprisingly well-matched flavors.

For your organizational convenience, a list of ingredients in order follows:

* crust for a one-crust pie
* 2 cups strawberries
* 2 cups rhubarb
* four stems worth of oregano, cut chiffonade
* 1/2 cup sugar
* 1/4 cup flour
*2 tablespoons cornstarch or arrowroot
* pinch of salt
* 1/2 cup pure maple syrup
* 2 tablespoons of butter
* one egg, beaten
* 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
* coarse turbinado sugar to taste

2 Responses to “Counter-Intuitive Strawberry Rhubarb Pie”

  1. dan Says:

    I just bought some strawberry rhubarb preserves in Walsingham, and it is delicious!

  2. Corduroy Orange » Blog Archive » Strawberry-Rhubarb-Oregano-Curry Pie Redux Says:

    [...] Alright, so this isn’t so much of a post as a pointer at a year-old post—but once again this year I made a strawberry-rhubarb pie with oregano in a curry crust and once again it was fantastic.  Time is running out on both the strawberry season and the rhubarb season, so I highly encourage everyone to try this one ASAP! [...]

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