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Summer Eats: Rhubarb Custard Pie from PANTRY AND PALATE

Get it while the rhubarb is good! 

Pantry and Palate Book Cover

Simon Thibault's Pantry and Palate: Remembering and Rediscovering Acadian Food, has been setting the Canadian foodie scene on fire since its release last month, and we're thrilled to bring you Thibault's recipe for rhubarb custard pie, right now while the rhubarb-getting is good. 



Rhubarb is a harbinger of spring in Atlantic Canada. It’s one of the first hints of the summer sweetness soon to come, even though by itself rhubarb is actually a vegetable and not a fruit. That doesn’t matter in Acadian households. After the winter, any excuse for a wee bit of fresh fruit and douceur (sweetness) is a welcome thing in many kitchens.

Monsieur F. G. J Comeau, better known as Francois Gregoire Justinien, was incredibly active in promoting Acadian culture throughout the Maritimes. He started his own newspaper, L’Echo, in Meteghan in 1884. He was instrumental forging reconnections with the Cajuns living in Lousiana and people of Acadian descent living in France. He helped in the development of Grand-Pre as a historic site to commemorate the deportation of the Acadians. He served as president of the Societe national de l’Acadie, or the Acadian National Society. He was also my grandfather Augustin’s uncle. Augustin named his first-born son after him.

I have a photo of F. G. J Comeau, standing at Grand-Pre in 1936, along with a large contingent of Cajuns from Louisiana. It was one of the first major events that helped reconnect many Acadians with their Cajun cousins. And here, in this dusty old blue notebook, I found a recipe for a dish that he probably would have eaten and enjoyed, made by his loving wife. I had never made, let alone had, a rhubarb custard pie. I was a little leery, but this pie became a standard in my kitchen that spring. I could say that I was “testing” the recipe to make sure I got it right, but realistically, I just really fell in love with this pie.

The original recipe asks to “beat together one egg, one cup sugar, one heaping teaspoon flour, pinch of salt. Stir in one cup chopped rhubarb and bake between two crusts.” That’s all I got.

I wanted to give a bit more instruction than that.

1 pie crust (see recipe on page 215)

2 cups chopped rhubarb, about 1-inch pieces

2 tablespoons milk

1 teaspoon cornstarch

4 egg yolks

1 cup sugar

pinch of salt

• Roll out your pie crust, and place in a round pie plate.

• Preheat oven to 350˚F.

• In a bowl, mix the milk and cornstarch together to create a slurry. Add the egg yolks and sugar and pinch of salt and mix until the sugar crystals have dissolved.

• Place the chopped rhubarb on top of the pie crust, making sure to spread it out evenly. Pour the custard over the rhubarb. Gently tap the bottom of the pie on the counter to help eliminate any bubbles.

• Place the pie into the oven, baking for about 50 minutes to an hour, or until the custard is set. You can tell by placing a toothpick into the pie; when the pie is done it will come out clean.

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