by Heather Harris-Brady
My grandma was an amazing cook but she only used rhubarb one way, stewed. I hated it. It was a grayish runny mass with pink and green strings running through it. So the only way I ate rhubarb as a kid was raw, like a stalk of celery. Yes, it was super-sour but I’m weird like that.
One gorgeous day when we were still childless and fancyfree my DH and I were traipsing the backwoods of Ontario, as we were wont to do. We ended up at a little Irish restaurant somewhere around Stratford. Lunch was great (shepherd’s pie) and when the waitress asked about dessert I said, “Is there anything I shouldn’t miss?”
“The rhubarb pie’s pretty good,” she said. I winced a little, picturing a runny mass inside a crust so I only ordered one piece. It was a revelation. Tender chunks of rhubarb, sweet and sour at the same time. For the better part of a year I read rhubarb pie recipes to discover the secret. I ended up combining elements of several, but it was when I found a recipe for rhubarb custard pie that I knew I was close. So here you have it, tender chunks of rhubarb simmering under a blanket of crumbs and merging into a golden, molten whole. You could totally make it without the crust if you want. I think it’s best warm, with a little vanilla ice cream on the side. Try to select rhubarb stalks that are roughly the same size, or cut really large ones in half.
Rhubarb Streusel Pie, Makes one 9″ deep-dish pie
1/2 recipe Aunt Linda’s never-fail pie crust
4-1/2 c. rhubarb, cut in 1/2″ chunks
1-1/3 c. sugar
1/3 c. flour
2 t. vanilla
1/2 c. flour
1/4 c. butter
1/3 c. sugar
Preheat the oven to 425. Combine the rhubarb with the 1-1/3 c. sugar. Let stand 15 minutes. While the rhubarb is resting, roll out the crust and line a 9″ deep dish pie plate. Weight it and bake for five minutes.
Beat the eggs, flour and vanilla together. Stir it into the rhubarb.
Pour it into the crust. Make the streusel: mix the flour and sugar together, cut in the flour until you have coarse crumbs. Spread them over the top of the pie.
Bake at 425 for 15 minutes, then turn the oven down to 350 and bake for another 30 minutes until the rhubarb is tender all the way through.
This would make a great Father’s Day surprise, btw. I’ll just wait here while you go hunt down some rhubarb. . .