I had the privilege to visit my cousins in Staunton, VA to spend some time with Joey Miska, one of my heroes in the kitchen! He has been cooking his whole life, and has been self-taught, simply knowing what spices go with what food, how long to bake something by instinct, and he never follows a recipe! So try getting the measurements and cooking time for some of his signature dishes! But guess what? I did! We cooked and baked for 2 days, making some of his (and my) favorite dishes, and his signature Apple and Pear Pie is one of the dishes that if I only had to pick 3 foods to bring on a desert island, this would be one of them!
I’m so grateful to Joey for sharing this recipe with me, and for the experience of cooking side by side with him, learning as we go! He’s a hoot to be with, and full of energy and warmth! Someone I hold next to my heart! My cousin, Marc, Joey’s husband, is full of love and kindness and what a pair they make!
I have been looking to make the perfect apple pie for ages, and I really think the crust is the icing on the pie! Getting it flaky, golden brown, and crisp is an art and a science, and Joey has this process PERFECT! Making sure the butter is ICE COLD, and using bacon rendering or lard (yes, you read this correctly), and rolling it out so you can see some of the butter like holes in swiss cheese are key to making crust! And the way he taught me to seal the rim by crimping the side between your fingers, and cut in little “chicken feet” on the top crust like his Mom taught him! Really simple and easy, too! We all can get intimidated by making a crust and my time with Joey really showed me that it is SO NOT intimidating!
Honestly, if buying a ready made crust makes things easier for you, by all means, go for it! I do it when I’m in a pinch and don’t want to get flour all over my kitchen! But please don’t be afraid! It was really rewarding!
And as for the filling, we used a couple different kinds of apples and pears from his neighbor’s farm, and tossed them all together with the brown sugar, lemon, cinnamon, and nutmeg, and watched as they began to caramelize and get wonderfully juicy! Poured into the crust, egg washed, and baked to perfection, and you will have your family and friends fighting over the pie! We even made a couple Apple Pear Galettes we had so much fun! That way there is plenty for everyone!!!!
After a day of cooking and baking, we had to reward ourselves with a Ketel One Dirty Martini! I was in charge of that!
Until next time,
Let’s get cookin’ and bakin’
Joey's Signature Apple and Pear Pie
- Large Mixing Bowl
- Medium Mixing Bowl
- 9" Pie Plate
- Rolling Pin
Apple Pear Pie Filling
- 5 cups apples, peeled and sliced thin
- 1 cup pears, peeled and sliced thin pears should be close to ripe, and not soft
- 1 cup raisins (brown or gold) optional
- ½ cup pecans, chopped optional
- ¾ cup brown sugar
- juice of ½ lemon
- 2 tsps cinnamon
- ½ tsp nutmeg
- 2 cups flour
- 12 tbsps butter, frozen (1 ½ sticks) do not take out until ready to make the crust
- 2 tbsps bacon rendering or lard you can purchase lard in the grocery store
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 ½ cups ice water
- 1 egg, beaten for brushing on the top of the crust
Apple Pear Pie Filling
- Peel and slice apples and pears and put in large mixing bowl.
- Add raisins and pecans.
- Toss gently with brown sugar, lemon juice and spices until well blended. Let rest while you make the pie crust.
- Preheat oven to 375°.
- Put flour and salt in medium mixing bowl.
- Chop frozen butter into slivers and small pieces.
- Add butter and rendering (lard) to flour and mix gently together. Dough will be crumbly.
- Begin pouring water into flour mixture, blending with hands as the dough begins to form. Pour more water until dough forms into a ball, and is just a little sticky to handle.
- Sprinkle flour onto a surface area where you will roll out your dough.
- Break dough into two balls. Put one of the dough balls onto the floured surface. Begin rolling dough into a circle, rolling from the middle out to the sides. You will see pieces of butter scattered throughout the dough. That is what you want to see. If the dough starts to stick on the surface, gently lift the dough, flour the surface, and turn the dough over.
- Roll the dough ball into a circle large enough to go 2 inches wider than the rim of the pie plate.
- Fold the dough in half and and lay into the pie plate, unfolding to cover the plate with the excess hanging off.
- Toss the filling one more time and spoon into the crust, gently spreading out to even out the filling.
- Repeat the rolling process with the next dough ball.
- Place the second crust on top of the pie.
- Trim the edges so that the crust is even with the rim.
- Pinch the edges of the crust with your thumb and index finger all around the rim to seal the two crusts together.
- Whisk the egg, and take a pastry brush and brush the top of the crust with the egg.
- With a sharp knife, poke small lines in the crust like "chicken feet" in a few areas so that the steam can escape when baking.
- Bake the pie for about 45 minutes until the crust is golden brown.
- Let rest before slicing and serve by itself or with vanilla ice cream or fresh whipped cream.