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Rhubarb Meringue Pie

All images courtesy of Sean Brennan

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I’ve always loved meringue pies – usually lemon. The combination of sweet, tart, caramelized, smooth, and fluffy makes my mouth water thinking about it.  The basics are pretty simple, and ingredients can be swapped out fairly easily to make delicious seasonal twists.  Take rhubarb for instance – a bitterly tart vegetable that looks like celery that was dipped in fire-engine red paint. Once it’s cooked, it mellows slightly, becomes soft and pudding-like in texture, and offering more subtle flavors – earthy, herbal, and floral. It’s available late spring and into the summer, and is usually best known for its partnership with strawberries.  Rhubarb is surprisingly versatile, and can be used to create a fun pop of bright pink in anything requiring a dose of acidity – think cocktails, lemonade, and in this case, curd. Rhubarb meringue pie is a fun twist on the classic lemon meringue adding a gorgeous pop of pink, as well as some good earthy notes. This recipe is quite involved as it has several components, but it’s worth it!

All images courtesy of Sean Brennan

Rhubarb Meringue Pie

Prep Time: 4 hours

Total Cooking Time: 1 hour

Makes: 8 servings

Crust

  • 10 GRAHAM CRACKERS
  • ½ TEASPOON SALT
  • 4 TEASPOONS ROOM TEMP BUTTER, CUT INTO CHUNKS
  • 1 LARGE EGG YOLK (SAVE THE EGG WHITE FOR THE MERINGUE!)

Filling

  • 3 CUPS WASHED AND DICED RHUBARB
  • 1.5 CUPS WATER
  • 1 CUP SUGAR
  • 1/2 CUP CORNSTARCH
  • 2 ½  CUPS RHUBARB JUICE/PUREE 
  • 1 CUP WATER (SKIP IF PREMADE CRUST, BRING CORNSTARCH TO ⅓ CUP)
  • ½ TEASPOON SALT
  • 4 LARGE EGG YOLKS (SAVE THE EGG WHITES FOR THE MERINGUE!)
  • 3 TABLESPOON BUTTER, CUT INTO CUBES
  • ZEST OF ½ A LEMON (APPROX ½ TABLESPOON)

MERINGUE

  • 5 ROOM TEMPERATURE EGG WHITES
  • ½ TEASPOON CREAM OF TARTAR
  • ¾ CUP SUGAR
  • ½ TEASPOON SALT

Directions

All images courtesy of Sean Brennan
All images courtesy of Sean Brennan
All images courtesy of Sean Brennan
All images courtesy of Sean Brennan
All images courtesy of Sean Brennan

Chef Tips

  • Make sure the filling is close to room temperature when putting the meringue on top –  this will reduce the chances of the meringue weeping.
  • Use hot water to heat up the knife you use to cut the pie, and wipe off between slices- this will ensure picture-perfect slices.
  • If you don’t have time or desire to make a graham cracker crust, go with store-bought! It’ll sadly hold less of the custard and meringue, but no one will be mad about extra of either. (whispers: the leftovers are *real* good on pancakes)
  • Whisking the custard consistently during the cooking process will help ensure there are no lumps. If there are, push the mixture through a sieve, which will break up or remove lumps. 
  • If you’d like, strain the cooked rhubarb through a sieve into a measuring cup, using a spatula to get as much liquid as possible from the pulp and allow it to come to room temperature. This will provide a slightly more smooth curd, but will also mellow the rhubarb flavor.
  • If you plan on transporting the pie, keep the meringue in a separate container, and torch it on location with a kitchen torch.
  • Try to find rhubarb that is mostly red – although the flavor doesn’t change, it helps create that gorgeous pink hue that tells everyone that they’re about to eat or drink something special.
  • Once you’ve created your custard, taste it while it’s still warm – rhubarb can have varying degrees of bitterness, and at this point, you can adjust the flavoring to your liking. Adding more rhubarb, lemon juice, or sugar will allow you to flavor to your preference, but remember – the meringue on top will be sweet, and the custard is supposed to be tart! 
  • You don’t have to add an egg yolk to the crust, you can add 2 Tablespoons more butter instead, but I find that the egg yolk helps stabilize the crust, as well as creating a moisture barrier to prevent sogginess. 
  • You can easily turn this recipe into a recipe for bars- increase the graham crackers to 16, and use an entire stick of butter. Spread the graham crust into a 13” x 9” pan, bake for 15-17 minutes, and follow the remaining instructions.
  • Rhubarb freezes really well, so if you love it like I do, buy it in season, clean it, dice it, and throw it in the freezer in a sealed bag. (In fact, make sure you do this – my Rhubarb Gin Fizz recipe is coming up soon, and you want some of that rhubarb saved!)
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