It’s summertime in Minnesota, which means one thing and one thing only: tornado season. So perhaps you’ll excuse me if this post is rather brief; I’ve got my eyes peeled on the television, which is proclaiming a tornado watch. Seriously, people: if it’s not one thing, it’s another (warning: this contains spoilers to a really excellent film.) But back to the softer side of seasonality…
- It’s the middle of summer where you are, and
- it’s blistering hot and humid, and
- the mere thought of turning on the oven (not to mention wrangling with pie dough) makes you want to cry, and
- you would cry, you really would, were it not for the fact that saving your bodily fluids Dune-style because the heat index is just! that! intense!
While all these things may be true, this recipe will make you say pooh pooh. Imagine layers of pure tomato and corn goodness, bound together by cheese and a tangy lemon mayonnaise, its savoriness accented by basil and chives, all wrapped up in a buttery, flaky, biscuit crust:
Does it need more saying? Very well, then. If you take a chance on this pie, you will:
- Discover an undeniably sexy butter-brushed biscuit pie crust that will take your breath away!
- Learn the most amazing flash-peel technique for tomatoes, a technique whose genius and simplicity will shock and awe you!
- Develop a new-found taste (no, scratch that, esteem…no, scratch that, obsession) for savory pies!
- Capture summer in a piepan!
This pie is a rock star. I promise you nothing but good things from it. Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to watch the weather report.
Update, 6 pm: Storms have moved south of us, thankfully, at least according to Channel 5. Calling in from Watertown, MN, a certain Molly Hoof reports golfball-sized hail and strong winds, noting: “I grabbed some cheese and crackers because I didn’t know what was gonna happen.” Spoken with all the wisdom of a true Minnesotan, doncha know. I tell my mother, who responds thoughtfully, “Sounds good to me. She’s a smart woman…”
Update #2, 8 pm: Um, never mind. Grabbing the cheese and crackers, heading to the furnace room with dogs and company in tow.
Final update: We’re all okay! (Locked?) door somehow blew open, sailboat and neighbor’s dock flipped over, huge branches all over the yard, but otherwise things are looking clear and calm, with a consolation prize of the most amazing sky you’ve ever seen.
Tomato and Corn Pie
As found on Smitten Kitchen, who adapted it from Gourmet, who adapted it from Laurie Colwin and James Beard. This pie gets around! (Further support for its rock star status.)
2 cups All-Purpose Flour
1 Tbsp Baking Powder
1 ¾ tsp Salt, divided
¾ Stick (6 Tablespoons Or 3 Ounces) Cold Unsalted Butter, cut into ½-inch cubes, plus 2 teaspoons melted
¾ cup Whole Milk
⅓ cup Mayonnaise
2 Tbsp Fresh Lemon Juice
1 ¾ pounds Beefsteak Tomatoes (I used regular tomatoes; they worked well.)
1 ½ cups Corn (From About 3 Ears), coarsely chopped by hand, divided
2 Tbsp Finely Chopped Basil, divided (optional, but worth it!)
1 Tbsp Finely Chopped Chives, divided (again, optional, but worth it)
Salt and pepper
7 ounces Coarsely Grated Sharp Cheddar (1 ¾ Cups), divided
Dough: Whisk together flour, baking powder, and ¾ tsp salt in a bowl, then blend in cold butter (¾ stick) with your fingertips or a pastry blender until it resembles coarse meal. Add milk, stirring until mixture just forms a dough, then gather into a ball. (N.B.: I probably only used 1/2 a cup of milk, if that, of the 3/4 called for by the recipe. Nothing worse than a sticky, too damp pie dough–it makes it miserable to work with and severely diminishes the flakiness of the resulting pie.)
Divide dough in half and roll out one piece on a well-floured counter (my choice) or between two sheets of plastic wrap (the recipe’s suggestion, but I imagined it would annoyingly stick to the plastic) into a 12-inch round (⅛ inch thick). Either fold the round gently in quarters, lift it into a 9-inch pie plate and gently unfold and center it or, if you’re using the plastic warp method, remove top sheet of plastic wrap, then lift dough using bottom sheet of plastic wrap and invert into pie plate. Pat the dough in with your fingers trim any overhang.
Preheat oven to 400°F with rack in middle. If your kitchen is excessively warm, as ours is, go ahead and put the second half of the dough in the fridge until you’re ready to use it.
Filling: Whisk together mayonnaise and lemon juice.
(And here’s the cool flash-peel technique:) Cut an X in bottom of each tomato and blanch in a large pot of boiling water 10 seconds. Immediately transfer with a slotted spoon to an ice bath to cool. Peel tomatoes, then slice crosswise ¼ inch thick and, if desired (see Notes above recipe), gently remove seeds and extra juices. (Yes, do this. It helps the pie be more like pie and less like stew.) Arrange half of tomatoes in crust, overlapping, and sprinkle with half of corn, one tablespoon basil, ½ tablespoon chives, salt and pepper (if you want to be exact, the recipe calls for 1/2 tsp salt and 1/8 tsp pepper for each layer; I just seasoned with a pinch of each) and one cup of grated cheese. Repeat layering with remaining tomatoes, corn, basil, chives, salt, and pepper. Pour lemon mayonnaise over filling and sprinkle with remaining cheese.
Roll out remaining piece of dough into a 12-inch round in same manner, then fit over filling, folding overhang under edge of bottom crust and pinching edge to seal. Cut 4 steam vents in top crust and brush crust with melted butter (2 teaspoons). Bake pie until crust is golden and filling is bubbling, 30 to 35 minutes, then cool on a rack. Serve warm or at room temperature.
Do ahead: Pie can be baked 1 day ahead and chilled. Reheat in a 350°F oven until warm, about 30 minutes.