Slightly Savory Rye Plum Pie

Well, it’s my “Sunday” today. Which means, of course, that I had to go to the farmer’s market over the “weekend” before heading back to “work.”

I don’t even want to tell you how much of my paycheck I drop on fresh produce.

While I bravely abstained from buying another “happy” local chicken, I definitely ended up purchasing some mushrooms “by mistake.” Oysters. Plus, the kindly mushroom vendor slipped in a king trumpet, on the house! I’ve got the beginnings of a mushroom charcuterie board over here…but I don’t want to get any harebrained ideas. I’ll just stick to sautéing them in butter and pouring them over grains, meat, or pasta like everyone else.

After recently making plum preserves out of some of the most beautiful empress plums I have ever beheld, I’ve been feeling, well, really into plums.

Be honest with yourself: when was the last time you really savored biting into a plum? That tender, juicy, incredibly sweet flesh coupled with a tangy, sour exterior? And that frosted purple skin? I mean, come on! Nature’s just laughing all the way to the bank with that one.

Or at least, the fruit vendors are every time I come around…I snagged some grapes as I was checking out like someone might snag a candy bar at the grocery store. Sugar is sugar, I guess.

I pondered what to make of these gorgeous darlings for a while before finally settling on pie. But to make things a little more interesting, I decided to bring rye flour to the party.

If the thought of rye flour makes you sweat, or you’d rather not buy a $30 bag of flour to use once and never again, substitute for whole wheat or all-purpose flour. I chose rye for its aromatic, slightly nutty qualities. Getting a whiff of this pie as it’s coming into life in the oven is a true treat, and gives your senses something to ponder until it’s time, at last, to eat.

you can use orange or lemon juice in the fruit filling. i wanted to really taste the plum in my pie, but feel free to throw in 1/2-1 tsp fresh zest. (this cutting board made by my talented boyfriend <3)

First, I mixed up the dough using equal parts rye and all-purpose flours, salt, a little sugar, butter, and water. This I let chill in the fridge for about 30 minutes.

I then washed the plums and cut them into uneven chunks (I like a little variety in each slice). I tossed these in a bowl with sugar, vanilla paste, orange juice, and a pinch of salt.

I rolled out half of the chilled dough on a floured surface. The rye flour makes this crust a little more prone to breaking than straight all-purpose flour, so I rolled the thin crust in my rolling pin and eased it over the pie plate.

dot with about 4 tbs butter

I got a new rolling crinkle cutter toy from the kitchen store, and was very excited to put it to use!

I used the scraps from the pie to make a galette with the leftover plum jam from last week! 🙂 don’t be afraid to freeze your dough in a moisture-proof zip top bag if you don’t want to be swimming in desserts.

Paint your beautiful, beautiful pie with egg wash, then it’s off to the races! Your home is about to smell amazing.

i put a baking sheet under the baking pie so falling drops of syrup didn’t burn and smoke my roommates out.
may or may not have eaten pie for breakfast

Use up these plums while they’re around, people! Your taste buds will thank you, and so will your local source.

Slightly Savory Rye Plum Pie

Serves 12

Crust

  • 1 ½ c all-purpose flour
  • 1 ½ c rye flour
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 Tbs sugar
  • 1 c butter (two sticks)
  • ½ c + 1 Tbs cold water

Plum filling

  • 2 lbs plums, cut into varying sized chunks (skin on)
  • 1/3 c brown sugar (light or dark)
  • ¼ c all-purpose flour or white rice flour
  • 1 tsp vanilla bean paste or vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp fresh-squeezed lemon juice or orange juice
  • 1 three-fingered pinch of salt
  • 4 Tbs butter, for dotting the top of fruit

Assembly

  • 1 egg, beaten
  • Splash of heavy cream (optional)
  • 1 Tbs finishing sugar, like demerara, turbinado, or another large-crystal sugar
  • 1-2 pinches large flaked salt (optional)

Preheat oven to 400°F. Mix dry ingredients for crust in a large bowl with a fork or a whisk. Cut butter into small chunks and incorporate with a pastry cutter or with your fingers. (Alternatively, use a cheese grater on its largest “setting” to break butter into small, uniform pieces and mix into the flour.) Add the water ¼ cup at a time and mix with your hands until dough comes together. Divide dough unto two even pieces, wrap in plastic wrap, and chill in the fridge at least 20 minutes.

Cut plums into chunks of desired size, leaving the skins on, and place in another large bowl. Add brown sugar, flour, vanilla, fruit juice, and salt, and mix gently with your hands or a spatula or wooden spoon. Let the fruit juices sit in the sugar at least 10 minutes.

Roll out half of dough while fruit is macerating. Line a shallow pie dish, and add fruit when 10 minutes have passed, scraping out all the juice and sugar from the fruit bowl with a spatula. Dot the fruit with second measurement of butter, evenly distributing over the surface. Roll out second half of dough and place over the top of the fruit, creating a lattice if desired. Pinch the edges of the two pieces of rolled out dough together until a recognizable outer crust forms. (Alternatively, crimp edges with a fork and cover with foil, leaving the center of the pie uncovered.)

Beat egg in a small bowl and add cream, if using. Using a pastry brush, spread egg mixture over the top crust, coating all visible surfaces. Sprinkle finishing sugar over the crust and optional salt.

Bake 45 minutes-1 hour, tenting with foil for the last 20 minutes if desired to prevent crust from getting too dark. If you are worried about the pie bubbling over and sending molten sugar to burn on the bottom of your oven, place a cookie sheet underneath the pie tin. You want the fruit filling to bubble in order to cook the flour; this ensures the insides of your pie will thicken and set. 

Let the pie cool at least 20 minutes before cutting into it. Enjoy with plain coconut milk or goat milk ice cream, whipped cream or coconut cream, yogurt, or sour cream or sweetened with a touch of honey. 

Chicken and Dumplings

Well, the rain is back. It feels right, really. Like, the only thing that’s made sense so far this year is the return of the grey skies and precipitation to this PNW town. (Aw, man. I hope I didn’t jinx it–after all, it’s only September…)

I ponder this as I sip my spicy chai and munch on a slice of sourdough layered with ricotta cheese and homemade concord grape/serrano pepper preserves. It’s good to have a roof over my head. It’s even better to have whole milk cheese and spicy grape jelly.

With the driving rain comes the desire for comfort foods and, for me, naps. (Any fellow nappers out there?)

Since I’ve already made two lasagnas in the last month, I decided to go with chicken and dumplings. Y’know, vamp up my usual autumnal habit of throwing stuff from my refrigerator that’s about to go bad into a pot of hot broth and calling it soup (which Samin Nosrat tells us never, ever to do). But hey, I can’t help but try to run a no-waste kitchen–even if it means bending a few culinary “rules.” Sorry, Samin. (But I still love you oh-so-much!!!)

I’d never made chicken and dumplings before–in fact, had never tasted it–but I saw Alison Roman’s recipe with the New York Times and had to give it a try.

I was reminded of Julia Child’s boeuf bourguignon as I scraped browned bits of meat from the bottom of my Dutch oven and wondered briefly if this humble American staple perhaps had French roots.

A Google search informed me it’s accredited to the southern United States and gained notoriety during the Great Depression. It kinda makes sense. The chicken is cooked in such a way that the meat falls off the bone, so it’s easy to use whatever animal scraps are on hand; and the hearty, flour-rich broth and steamed dumplings make for a cheap, filling meal. Plus, it’s actually a very satisfying bowl of stew, if I can call it that. It’s kind of its own thing. You’ll just have to make it for yourself and see.

I happened to have a whole chicken from my foray in the local farmer’s market this past weekend; thus began the adventure of “butchering” my own bird into recognizable pieces.

I watched a slew of instructional Youtube videos and channeled my inner Julia Child as I held my knife to where the leg meets the rest of the bird, daring it to challenge me.

Turns out, it’s actually kinda fun. Carving out two thighs, two drumsticks, two wings, and two breasts rewards you not only with the palatable meat, but the carcass (perfect for making stock!!) which I immediately sealed in a ziplock back and placed in the freezer.

stock gold!!

I don’t know if it was the crunching of bones or the smell of raw meat, but both animals hovered around me as I cut.

Internet, meet Gus!

After carving the bird and seasoning the pieces with salt and pepper, I gathered the necessary ingredients to make the quick stock.

it’s a simple stock, really–but the flavor is so special because of the simplicity of the ingredients

Well, I should add everything here is organic, mostly local, and free range–I am referring, of course, to the thyme! (Stand down, Chris D’Elia. This girl’s got jokes!)

I can feel your eye rolls from here, so I’ll carry on to the meat browning in my beloved Le Creuset!

mmm, dark meat <3

Then, drain the fat into a liquid measuring cup and set the seared meat on a plate with a paper towel.

Any Type A folx driven crazy by this photo??

Then, add celery, onion, and half the carrots. Cook for a few minutes, then add water, thyme, and seared meat. Not to worry–those brown crusty bits end up coating the veggies as they release moisture during the cooking process. Mmmmm!

Yep, hard to go wrong with these ingredients.

This gets cooked at a simmer for a little over a half an hour, or until the liquid has reduced by 1/4. Then it’s time to make and add the dumplings!

she’s not much to look at now, but she cleans up reaaaaal good

Once you dollop the dumpling dough into the broth, it’s time to cover and steam for about 20 minutes! Check a dumpling by cutting it in half to make sure it’s cooked through all the way–and boom! You just made chicken and dumplings! 🙂

add fresh herbs to garnish. parsley is usually a good idea.

Chicken and Dumplings

Adapted from Alison Roman’s NYT recipe

Chicken 

  • 1.5-2 lbs skin-on chicken on the bone, preferably thighs or other dark meat
  • 2 Tbs canola oil
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 5 celery stocks, chopped
  • 6 medium or 4 large carrots, peeled and chopped into 1/2 inch slices
  • 5 sprigs thyme
  • ¼ cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 Tbs butter (add more as needed)
  • Salt and freshly cracked pepper

Dumplings and Presentation

  • 1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 ½ tsp baking powder
  • ¾ teaspoon salt
  • ½ tsp freshly ground pepper
  • ¾ cup buttermilk, or 2 tsp lemon juice or vinegar added to milk of your choice, equaling ¾ cup
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 2 Tbs melted butter (I used salted)
  • ½ cup parsley, chopped (for garnish)

Season chicken generously on all sides with salt and pepper and let sit for 15 minutes at room temperature. Heat canola oil in a large, heavy bottomed Dutch oven (I used Le Creuset) and place the chicken skin side down in the oil. Cook about 8 minutes, or until chicken skin appears golden brown and fat is rendered from the meat. Flip and cook another 5 minutes or so. Using tongs, transfer chicken to a plate with a paper towel, and pour the rendered fat into a liquid measuring cup or bowl. Ideally, you will have 5 Tbs total. If your chicken was not so fatty, add the necessary amount of canola oil to make 5 Tbs.

Return 2 Tbs of fat to the pot and add onions, celery, and half of the carrots. (Don’t worry about the browned bits on the bottom of the pot—as the vegetables cook and release water, any chicken “crusties” will dissolve and their wonderful flavor will be incorporated!) Season vegetables with salt and freshly cracked pepper and cook for about 5 minutes. Return the chicken pieces to the pot with thyme and 8 cups of water. Simmer uncovered until the liquid has reduced by about ¼, about 35 minutes.

Pull chicken from the pot and transfer to a plate with a fresh paper towel. Strain the stock with a colander over a bowl and throw the vegetables and thyme sprigs out; you should have about 5 cups of liquid. Wipe out the Dutch oven, if you feel so inclined.

Heat the last 3 Tbs of chicken fat with 1 Tbs of butter over medium heat. Sprinkle in flour and whisk until it is golden brown, about 5 minutes. Gradually whisk in chicken stock and bring to a boil, being careful to work out lumps. Add remaining carrots and season with salt and freshly cracked pepper. Lower heat to a simmer as you pull apart the chicken meat from the bones. Cook and stir until the mixture is thickened and the carrots are tender, around 10 minutes.

As this mixture is thickening, make the dumplings. In a medium bowl, whisk together dry ingredients. Mix buttermilk and beaten egg together, and add to the dry ingredients, followed by the melted butter. Mix until just incorporated with a rubber spatula, being careful not to over mix. (Being careful to gently mix during this time makes for tender dumplings!)

Dollop the dumpling dough into the hot liquid in a heaping tablespoon, taking care to give the edges an opportunity to make contact with the broth and absorb the flavor. When all of the dough has been placed into the pot, cover and cook for 18 minutes, or until a sacrificial dumpling is fluffy and cooked all the way through when cut in half. Scoop your chicken and dumplings into a bowl and enjoy with chopped parsley or the herb of your choice.