Rhubarb Orange Meringue Pie

During the early summer of 2010, Locavorious preserved a lot of rhubarb from Green Bush Farm in Belleville.  I met Wayne Havens of Green Bush Farm at the Downtown Ypsilanti Farmers market, and he was excited to hear that we needed more rhubarb because he had a lot.  The next week he cut 100 lbs for us and delivered it to the Locavorious kitchen.  Thank you Wayne!  That is what Locavorious is all about – whatever is growing well, in excess over what the farmer can sell and the folks can eat – freeze it for winter enjoyment! 

 

 

Wayne at the Westside market; Wayne’s rhubarb washed up.

 Not sure what to do with rhubarb?  For everything you ever wanted to know about rhubarb and every recipe anyone’s thought to post or share, check out The Rhubarb Compendium.   I think the only rhubarb recipe that is not on there is the absolute-best rhubarb pie recipe Locavorious member Joe T. refuses to give me because he pried it out of a little old lady in Ontario running a diner who swore him to secrecy, but anyway…

Another place I look for cooking inspiration is the Michigan Lady Food Bloggers; “If you seek a pleasant recipe look about you.”  This year Mom’s Kitchen is running the Spice Rack Challenge, whereby each month Mom challenges folks to cook something with a different herb or spice.  I thought this was a great idea to nudge me out of cooking ruts, and in addition I plan on adding the locavore twist – a recipe with local food and the spice/herb-of-the month.  February’s Spice Rack Challenge was citrus.  So, running a little late (as usual) here is a lovely pie recipe that combines local frozen MI rhubarb with orange zest.   It could take the title away from Joe’s secret recipe.   (Adapted from recipes on The Rhubarb Compendium and SimplyRecipes.com. )

Ingredients

1 frozen or homemade pie crust (I made ½ the pie crust recipe from the Blueberry Pie recipe….another secret recipe from my mother-in-law) 

Filling:

  • Two 12 oz packages of frozen rhubarb
  • 1 cup white granulated sugar
  • 1 tablespoon orange zest (grated peel from 1 large navel orange)
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 2 ½ tablespoon corn starch

Meringue:

  • 1 tablespoon corn starch
  • 1/3 cup cold water
  • 1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar (can substitute 1 teaspoon of white vinegar)
  • 1/2 cup white granulated sugar
  • 4 egg whites (at room temperature)
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla

Pre-bake pie crust: Heat the oven to 350°F.  Line the pie shell with aluminum foil.  Bake for ~ 10 minutes (or if using a frozen crust, bake for ~ 20 minutes); remove aluminum foil, poke bottom of crust several times with a fork, bake for an additional 10 to 15 minutes, or until it is lightly browned all over. Remove from oven and set aside.  Reset oven to 325°F.  

Filling:   Rinse frozen rhubarb in a colander and drain a bit.  Mix frozen rhubarb, sugar, orange zest, cinnamon, and ground ginger in a medium saucepan. Let sit for ~ 15 minutes.  Put the pan on the stove on medium heat.  Stir in corn starch.  Slowly heat up the rhubarb mixture, stirring occasionally.  Cook at a low bowl until the rhubarb is fully softened, and the mixture starts to thicken.  (I lost track of time for this step, but it seemed like about 12 mins.)   Leave on the stove to keep warm.

Meringue:  This was the 1st time I tried to make a meringue, so I followed the detailed instructions on simplyrecipes.com.  Here they are….In a small bowl, mix the sugar and cream of tartar and set aside. (If not using cream of tartar, wait to add the vinegar to the egg whites just before whipping them.)   In a small saucepan, whisk corn starch and cold water together until the corn starch is dissolved. Heat on the stovetop and stir with a whisk until the mixture gets bubbly and forms a gel. Remove from heat. 

Place the egg whites and vanilla in a very clean bowl of an electric mixer.   (In my house that “very clean” adjective was important to note; apparently meringues don’t like traces of previous baking projects, specks of dust, etc interfering with their meringueability.)  Start the speed on low and gradually increase the speed to medium. Once the egg whites are frothy, slowly add the sugar and cream of tartar mixture, one tablespoon at a time.  Beat until the sugar is incorporated and the mixture forms soft peaks. Then add the cornstarch mixture, one tablespoon at a time. Increase the mixture speed to high, and beat until the mixture forms stiff peaks.

Pie assembly:  The rhubarb filling needs to be hot when the meringue goes on, so if it has cooled, reheat it. Pour the hot rhubarb mixture into the pre-baked pie shell, spreading it evenly. Using a rubber spatula, spread the meringue mixture evenly around the edge first and then the center of the pie to keep it from sinking into the filling. Make sure the meringue attaches to the pie crust to prevent shrinking.

Bake the pie at 325°F until the meringue is golden brown, about 20-25 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack and let cool to room temperature. Refrigerate if not eating on the spot.

Slice of rhubarb orange meringue pie ready for the book club ladies to sample.

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