This technique worked well and I will make this again and again and again. The rhubarb method leaves the pieces in an almost candied form, the custard adds a silky richness, and the strawberries stay sweet and fresh and firm. Win-win. To make this, I wanted to sweeten the rhubarb without stewing it, in part to preserve the flavor and color, and more importantly because I didn’t want excess moisture to thin the custard. I placed the chopped rhubarb (amounts all detailed in recipe below) in a dry skillet with the sugar and a little vanilla extract and cooked it over medium heat until the sugar melted, the juices extracted, and it became a beautifully ruddy, bubbling mass. Resist the urge to add water to this–the sugar will melt into liquid.
At this point you want the juices to cook away until the rhubarb is almost candied and the syrup is really thick.
Set that aside to cool completely, and make the custard. You want a pretty thick custard for your pie filling, so I strongly recommend using whole milk for this. I am lazy when it comes to custard and I found that if you whisk everything together with the egg yolks really well while it is all cold, you really don’t need to temper the liquid before adding the yolks. Just put all of the custard ingredients in a cold saucepan, whisk really well, and then cook over medium-high heat, whisking frequently, until it is all bubbly and nice and thick.
2 cups whole milk
3 egg yolks
1/2 cup sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
3 tablespoons cornstarch
pinch of salt
2 cups chopped fresh rhubarb
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup sugar
graham cracker pie shell (or gingersnap, as detailed above)
fresh strawberries, hulled and halved
Happy Independence Day!