Note: The filling for this pie can be made up to 2 days ahead of time. The potato topping, however, should be made right before assembly. To make this dish vegan, simply replace the butter...
I have a startling confession to make. We don't plan our meals.
At the moment, we're in the editorial phase of sketching out the next edition of the book, and while we are maintaining the blog and doing a little bit of recipe testing and development, we're mostly in a pattern of just cooking what sounds good at the moment, using ingredients we get at the farmer's market.
By any standard, our grocery shopping habits are not organized. We buy what looks good and then figure out what to do with it. However, there are always a few key items that we keep in our fridge regardless of season or inclination--parsley, lemons, yogurt, and green onions to name a few. Because we use those ingredients so frequently, we usually chuck them in the grocery cart without too much thought.
Sometimes, though, this means that we end up with two bags full of lemons. In the normal course of our cooking, we would not be able to use two bags of lemons, and neither of us is crazy for lemonade. But one of the best things about knowing how to cook is knowing how to use things you have too much of.
Lemon curd is one of those impressive little recipes that will make you look like a kitchen wizard. Whether you spread it on brioche or scones, marble it into a cheesecake, or put it in cute little jars and gift it to friends, it's a handy thing to know how to make.
I really love the recipe that's in Joy right now. It's pretty stone simple--all the ingredients are whisked together over low heat until thick, then strained into a bowl where lemon zest and vanilla extract are added in to good effect. Even better, it uses whole eggs. Meaning: no leftover egg whites to deal with.
A couple things: stir or whisk the curd constantly. This isn't really a good time to multitask. The good news is that it takes less than 10 minutes for the curd to thicken, so you won't be marooned on lemon curd island for very long. If you have one, use a saucier to make this (a saucier is basically just a saucepan with tapered sides). It helps prevent the curd from sticking in the edge where the sides and bottom of the pan meet. But any old saucepan is fine--just use a spatula to get into those corners so nothing curdles or scorches.
Whisk together in a medium stainless steel or enamel saucepan until light in color:
3 large eggs
1/3 cup sugar
1/2 cup strained fresh lemon juice
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
Cook, whisking, over medium-low to medium heat until the butter is melted. Whisk constantly until the mixture is thickened and coats the back of a spoon or spatula. Scrape the curd into a fine-mesh sieve set over a bowl, and strain the filling into the bowl. Stir in:
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
Zest of 2 lemons
Let cool, cover, and refrigerate to thicken completely. This keeps, refrigerated, for about 1 week.