Cornmeal is a staple of my diet. I eat toasted corn tortillas with my scrambled eggs, I cannot be left alone with a bag of Juanitas chips, and I prefer cheesy polenta to pasta as a base for meaty ragùs. Thinking about how much I love cornmeal (what, you don’t?) got me thinking about cornbread and corn muffins and cornmeal pie crust, and before long I was paging through The Joy Of Cooking to remind myself how to make that last one so I could eat it as soon as possible.
It is always a good time to crave a cornmeal dessert, but right now is an especially good one: the first crops of serviceable strawberries are starting to pop up in supermarkets, and those two flavors go together like PB&J. Bonus: it’s also rhubarb season, which I learned because Safeway had some displayed right next to twofer 1-lb. boxes of strawberries when I was there last night. Jackpot! Strawberry-rhubarb is my favorite pie of all time (if I were forced to choose) and I’m in a huge “put cornmeal in everything” phase, so I was really excited to try this pie out.
The crust-filling combination on this pie is delicious - like a slice of strawberry-rhubarb cornbread-shortcake. As with all fruit pies, the only fussy part of this recipe is the crust. All-butter cornmeal pie crust tastes amazing but can be kind of dry and crunchy, so I used the recommended amount of shortening for a change and it turned out great. If you really don’t like shortening, use the same amount of cream cheese instead - it helps keep the crust together and is delicious to boot. Also, I generally use salted butter in pie crusts because I’m punk rock as hell,* so if you use unsalted butter like you’re supposed to just be sure to add salt as noted. As with all pie crusts, if you keep everything (fats, tools, even your hands) as cold as possible, work quickly, and let the damn thing cool completely after baking, it should turn out great. Here’s the thing, though: even ugly pies taste good when they’re homemade and involve as much butter as this one does.
*Just kidding! It’s because I really like my desserts to have a savory element, and upping the sugar to balance the higher salt content achieves that end nicely.
Recipe after the jump.