We're getting into holiday pie season, including the traditional Thanksgiving pies: pumpkin, pecan, sweet potato. Fat City reader Deborah is a vegetarian and says she never really thought of pies as an issue until she noticed, at her local supermarket, that frozen pie crusts might be prepared with lard.
Lard -- rendered or unrendered pig fat -- was once the shortening of choice for the perfect, flaky pie crust. It has become less popular in culinary circles recently because of its high saturated-fat content. But what's a diner like Deborah to do if she goes to a restaurant?
One of the biggest purveyors of pies to Kansas City restaurants, corporate dining facilities and diners is Overland Park-based Golden Boy Pies, which does not use lard in its pie crusts. "We use a butter blend," says Golden Boy's Connie Campbell.
It's not for vegans, of course, but vegetarians who still eat dairy can eat the pie crust used for Golden Boy's array of cream and fruit pies, including pumpkin and pecan and a recent innovation: a maple-pecan cream pie available with either meringue or whipped-cream topping.
Another local venue famous for house-made fruit pies is You Say Tomato, at 2801 Holmes. Baker and co-owner Mark Wingard uses unsalted butter as shortening.
Heidi VanPelt-Belle, the chef-owner of the vegan-friendly cafe Fud (813 West 17th Street), has been planning to add vegan pies to her dessert menu for some time. "I haven't sat down to actually decide what I'd like to have on the menu, but definitely a yam pie," she says. "And we picked some delicious cherries earlier in the season and froze them. And apple, of course. It's easy to do vegan pies. You just use vegetable shortening."