Growing up, I never quite understood the magic of a family meal. When you're a kid, the only thing you worry about is whether or not you can hide your veggies before a grown-up sees you. But now I get it. My grandma has been cooking family meals my whole life and I'm just now getting it. They've always been few and far between because of the distance, but when I think back on all these meals, they all feel like one big event. Always so similar in nature- different people, same cozy feeling.
On my grandma's familiy dinner table, there is always a complete meal: a meat (usually chicken), a potato (hopefully something cheesy), 2 veggies sides (TWO), a salad (there's always a side bowl for it) with assorted dressings and... la piece de resistance, JELLO SALAD! Nobody does Jello salad like my grandma. Nobody.
In May, my grandma made me a Jello salad that seriously rocked my world. My world was rocked by that jello. Now there's something you don't hear everyday. It was cherry. With apples, pineapples, cherries and pecans. Oh my. Ohhhh my. And in those moments that I bounced Jello off my tongue, just hoping for a bite with both a cherry and pecan, I knew the two would combine themselves this summer in an epic love story.
And oh did they ever. I have been dreaming up this cherry and pecan galette for a very long time. I bought tart cherries the first chance I had at the farmers' market, but when I went to make this galette, I just had this intuitive feeling that a sweeter, darker cherry would be better. I think I made the right call, but by all means, use whatever cherries you can get your hands on.
Cherry Galette with Pecan Crust
serves 8 - I used dark sweet cherries here, but feel free to use whatever cherry you can find. If you can't find cherries or they are too expensive, any berry or stone fruit would be nice. And don't be afraid of pie dough. This one is very forgiving and worth it all. If you don't have pecans, feel free to use almonds. If you don't have a lemon, feel free to use an orange. If you don't have brown sugar, feel free to use cane sugar. If you want to make it gluten-free, use buckwheat or spelt flour. You can do this.
For the filling:
1 lb. cherries (any variety will work)
small pinch kosher salt
juice of half a lemon
zest of a lemon
1 Tbsp. unleached all-purpose flour
1/4 cup brown sugar (you might want to bump it up to 1/3 cup for tart cherries)
pinch of nutmeg
For the crust:
3/4 cup chopped pecans (will yield 3/4 pecan meal)
1/2 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
1 stick (4 oz.) cold butter, cut in cubes
1/2 tsp. kosher salt
up to 1/4 cup milk (any kind, the more fat, the better)
1 egg, lightly beaten
1 Tbsp. water
turbinado sugar, optional
1. In a large bowl, combine the flour salt and pecan meal. Using your hands, rub the butter into the flour mixture (alternatively, use a food processor or a pastry cutter- I just like my hands for this job the best). Large chunks can remain, but you want it to start feeling doughy. Add the milk a tablespoon at a time, until the dough comes together, but isn't too wet. If you end up adding too much milk, you can easily add more flour to make it not sticky. Form into a ball, wrap the dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate the dough while you make the filling.
2. Pit the cherries. You can do this several ways. I've done it with a straw. You can use a cherry pitter. My preferred method is with a small paring knife. I just rotate the knife around the cherry, then remove the stem and pit. Once the cherries are pitted, combine them in a small bowl with the brown sugar, nutmeg, lemon zest, lemon juice, 1 Tbsp. flour and a small pinch of salt (to balance flavors).
3. Once the dough has chilled for about 20-30 minutes, preheat the oven to 400 F. Line a larger baking sheet with parchment paper. Remove the dough from the fridge (add more flour if it is too sticky to work with, just a little at a time) and place in the middle of the baking sheet. Spread the dough into a 12" circle (or so) right onto the parchment.
4. Carefully spoon the cherries right into the center of the dough. Then, very carefully, fold up the sides of the dough onto the cherry mixture. You don't want to overlap the dough with itself too much, but you must contain the cherries without holes. You can easily patch if you need to.
5. Mix the egg and water in a small bowl, then brush the edges of the dough with the egg wash. Sprinkle with turbinado sugar if using and bake for up to 40 minutes. The edges of my dough got real dark around 30 so I removed it at that point, but your oven may be different.
6. Serve with freshly whipped cream or ice cream. Enjoy the fruits of your labor.