Beth Kirby of Local Milk carries her Southern heritage -- and the ingredients, dishes, and recipes that come with it -- with her wherever she goes. Every other Monday, that place is here.
Today: A warm, spiced pear pie that wants to be on your holiday table.
Large tracts of land like wide streets be damned, I’m having a get together, an intimate gathering of the virtual sort -- a pie party with you all. I've gathered some floral, honey-scented pears, made a crust of leaf lard and Cruze Farm’s buttermilk, and churned up some ice cream with milk from Fall Creek Farms and eggs from Tant Hill, all right here in Tennessee. In case we need to do this thing à la mode, you know.
And I haven't made just any pear pie. No, this one dances with the savory. With spiced, toasted walnuts and a few salty flecks of good blue cheese, this is an altogether different sort of pie that still manages to have all the comfort of tradition. Make it with your favorite pie crust, but my favorite for this pie is a leaf lard and buttermilk crust.
With the pie cooling and the kettle on, we'll gather on the front porch, where it smells of burning leaves. The living room window will be flung wide open and local psychedelic bluegrass will spin on the turntable in the sitting room, all mewling heart strings, fiddle grit, and that Appalachian timbre. Slices of pie will be doled out still warm with ice cream dripping down the sides, and we'll talk over the hushed clink of forks and mugs of coffee or tea, whatever your poison be.
Serves 8 to 10
1 recipe of your favorite pie crust for a double-crust pie
1/2 cup walnuts, toasted and roughly chopped
5 firm pears, peeled, cored, and sliced thin (about 1/8 inch)
1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 to 2 teaspoons orange blossom water (optional)
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup dark brown sugar
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
Pinch of cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1 to 2 ounces gorgonzola dolce
Turbinado or raw sugar for sprinkling
Heavy cream for brushing
Photos by Beth Kirby