Ask A Los Angeles Expert: Your Best Thanksgiving Pie Recipe

Ask A Los Angeles Expert: Your Best Thanksgiving Pie Recipe
Thanksgiving is the glorious holiday in which we give thanks for all the things we are grateful for by gorging ourselves with a labor-intensive, multi-course meal. While the feast itself may stray from the standardized turkey dinner (tofurkey, ham, roast beef, turducken, lasagna), there’s one element of the day that upholds the longstanding tradition: the apple pie.

While grandma’s apple pie may have a favorable track record, it might be time to mix it up with a little in-house competition where your family members are the judges. Three chefs, Chef Laurent Quenioux (“Top Chef,” season 9), Chef Brian Hill (“Top Chef,” Season 1) and Chef Roy Handler (“Chopped,” Season 16), have come together in the holiday spirit to take on your granny.

Chef Laurent Quenioux
Vertical Wine Bistro
70 N. Raymond Ave.
Pasadena, CA 91103
(626) 795-3999

Modern Tarts

Pate sablée almond (for 2 pies):

  • 500 g flour
  • 300 g butter
  • 120 g powdered sugar
  • 60 g almond meal
  • 60 g sugar
  • 2 eggs

For the filling:

  • 60 ml water
  • 100 g salted butter
  • 100 g brown sugar
  • 100 g sugar
  • 25 g cornstarch
  • 6 large apples, golden delicious
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 2 tsp vanilla paste
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg

Pâte sablée almonds:

  1. In a mixing bowl, beat the sugar and the butter for about 8 minutes until blended.
  2. Add the almond meal, the vanilla and the eggs one by one.
  3. Finally add the flour and work the dough until it is binding together firmly. Store in the refrigerator for 1 hour.

Syrup for filling:

  1. Melt the butter in a sauce pan.
  2. Add the cornstarch and whisk.
  3. Add the 60 ml of water.
  4. Add both kinds of sugar and all of the spices.
  5. Let thicken for a few minutes on low heat and keep on whisking.

Assembling the pies:

  1. With the rolling pin, start preparing the bottom dough.
  2. Add the big cubes of apple with the syrup and mix well.
  3. Add the apple mixture.
  4. With the leftover dough, create thin strips and garnish the top in a criss-cross design.
  5. Bake at 350° F for 45 to 50 minutes.

Chef Laurent suggests that the tarts be served warm, with caramel sauce, ice cream and vanilla-scented whipped cream. Also Creme Fraiche is very nice as well.

Chef Brian Hill

ML Apple Pie
Ingredients (1 pie – feeds 8):

  • 10 Granny Smith apples, peeled and sliced
  • 1.5 cups sugar
  • 8 oz whole butter
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup flour, all purpose
  • non-stick spray
  • 2 sheets of pie dough


  1. In a large saute pan on medium heat, toss your butter and sugar in together and melt.
  2. Add the apples and sauté for about 5 minutes until fully coated and translucent. It is a quick sauté as the apples will then be put into a oven and cooked further.
  3. Once the apples have been partially cooked, add the lemon, cinnamon and the flour and toss well to combine.
  4. Take off of the heat and spray your pie pan with non-stick spray.
  5. Line the pan with pie dough and make sure it drapes over the edges of the pan.
  6. Pour this mixture into your the dough and shake it so there are no air pockets. Place the other piece of dough over the top of the apples and fold up the sides so it is sealed.
  7. Once this is done, make 3 small knife cuts in the top of the pie. This will enable the pie to breathe while cooking.
  8. Bake in a preheated oven at 350 degrees F for 1 hour and 15 minutes.

Notes: You may use egg wash or drawn butter to coat the top of the pie so it comes out to a golden brown color once done. This is done strictly for appeal.

Related: Best Delicious Thanksgiving Dinner In LA

Chef Roy Handler

Apple Rugala


  • 8 oz cream cheese – room temperature
  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 cup butter – room temperature
  • 2 tbsp sugar


  • 4 Granny Smith apples, peeled and diced
  • 1 16-oz jar apricot preserves
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 2 tsp brandy


  1. In a food processor, combine all ingredients and mix well for 30-45 seconds until all ingredients are combined. Take out of the processor and put on a floured surface on a table. The dough will be soft and hard to work with, hence the flour. Roll the dough into a log. Cut the dough into 4 equal size disks and place in a dish and put that dish into the fridge to cool. This will make it easier to roll out and consistently round.
  2. Take all of your stuffing ingredients and mix well in a bowl. Taste for perfection and add a touch of lemon zest if it is too sweet.
  3. Now on a flat floured surface, roll out one disk. It should be in the shape of a square, 8×8 inches, and not too thin. Schmear the stuffing evenly on the dough. The stuffing is for 4 rolls so go easy on the schmear. Roll it up tightly and place on a sheet pan that is lined with non-stick spray. Do the same with the next 3 doughs. Place the logs on the pan and put back in fridge for 30 minutes to cool. Take the pan out and put each log on a cutting board. Cut each log into 7 pieces. Place the individual rugala back onto the pan and bake in a pre-heated 375 degree F oven for 20 minutes and let sit. Serve after all of your guests start begging for some sweets.

Related: Best Bars Open On Thanksgiving In LA

Kristine G. Bottone is a freelance writer living in Los Angeles. Her work can be found at