I could have shirked from the challenge because you all would never know, but I’m not like that. So I read through the recipe, check to make sure I have all the ingredients, buy Crisco (eek) apples at PlowBoys, my current fave market, and – oh crap, I don’t own a pie pan – go to Target and buy a Pyrex glass pie dish.
Now, I never use Crisco, but I have heard that it does make the best pie crust… so putting aside the fact that it is made from partially hydrogenated oil; and everything we’ve learned about harmful trans fats (ignorance was bliss in 1999); I tackled the job of peeling all those apples. This didn’t take as long as I thought it would – only about 10 minutes; coring and slicing them took a little longer.
I bet that you did not know that Crisco came out in 1911 and that early sales were largely generated by Orthodox Jews. The recipe for Five-Spice Apple Pie begins with this anecdote:
“By the time Crisco came out in 1911, apple pies had long been an American classic. But Crisco, the first hydrogenated vegetable shortening, gave cooks a boost. Here was a shelf-stable alternative to perishable butter and lard. While a lot of consumers were skeptical of Crisco, many early sales were generated by Orthodox Jews,who bought the shortening after a recipe booklet was published in Yiddish showing how Crisco could be used without breaking kosher dietary laws. Crisco’s success was assured when rationing made lard scarce during World War I.” Bon Appetit, September, 1999
Five-Spice Apple Pie
⅔ cup chilled solid vegetable shortening, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
Place pie on baking sheet in oven; bake until crust is golden brown and filling bubbles thickly, about 1 hour 5 minutes. Transfer pie to rack and cool. Serve slightly warm or at room temperature.