Chef Lidia Bastianich On The Food Of Rural America

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Chef Lidia Bastianich (Courtesy of "Lidia Celebrates America"/ WGBH-TV Meredith Nierman)
Chef Lidia Bastianich (Courtesy of "Lidia Celebrates America"/ WGBH-TV Meredith Nierman)

The holiday season for many of us means traditions, especially when it comes to what we eat this time of year.

Chef Lidia Bastianich traveled the United States to learn about some of these traditions. Those lessons, combined with her own immigrant experience, are part of her new holiday special from PBS titled "Lidia Celebrates America: A Heartland Holiday Feast."


Lidia Bastianich, chef, restaurateur and host of PBS' "Lidia's Kitchen." Her holiday special airs Tuesday night at 9 on PBS.


Bonnie Boyer’s Shoofly Pie

In her special, "A Heartland Holiday Feast," Lidia visits Pennsylvania, where she meets Bonnie Boyer. Bonnie, uses her grandmother's recipe to make a shoofly pie that she is locally renowned for.

Bonnie and Lidia make pies together, and Lidia later uses what she's learned to make her own shoofly pie for the celebratory 'Heartland Holiday Feast' in Pennsylvania.

Prep time: 1.5 hours

Cook time: 50-55 mins

Yield: 2 pies

Ingredients (Two 9-inch pie plates)

Pie Crust:

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
  • 3/4 cup shortening
  • 1 teaspoon fine salt


  • 2 cups packed dark brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 cup Pennsylvania-Dutch table syrup, such as Golden Barrel (Pennsylvania-Dutch table syrup can be found online for purchase or at a local Amish market. You may substitute dark corn syrup.)


  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup dark brown sugar, packed
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • Pinch salt
  • 3/4 cup shortening


  • For the crust: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
  • In a large bowl, combine the flour, shortening, salt and 5 tablespoons cold water.
  • With your hands, cut the shortening into the dry ingredients until the mixture forms crumbles the size of peas.
  • Knead just until a dough forms.
  • Divide the dough in half.
  • On a lightly floured surface, roll out each half to a 10-inch circle and fit into a 9-inch pie plate.
  • Crimp the edges.
  • Repeat for the remaining dough and pie plate.
  • Set aside.
  • For the filling: In a large bowl, whisk together the sugar and eggs.
  • In a medium bowl, whisk together 2 cups hot water and the baking soda.
  • Stir the corn syrup into the water mixture until dissolved.
  • Add the corn syrup mixture to the brown sugar mixture and stir to combine.
  • Set aside.
  • For the crumble: In a large bowl, combine the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt.
  • With your hands, cut the shortening into dry ingredients until crumbles, the size of walnuts, appear.
  • Set aside.
  • Pour the filling into the unbaked pie shells.
  • Generously sprinkle the crumble over the filling.
  • Bake for 50 to 55 minutes, then serve.


Filé Gumbo

In Natchitoches, Louisiana, Lidia is introduced to Lillie Delphin, who is well known for her Creole cooking. Lidia learns that the Creole people are multicultural, a mixture of the French, Spanish, African-American and Native Indian. Together, Lillie and Lidia make this delicious Gumbo and enjoy the meal with friends from Natchitoches.

Lidia's special, "A Heartland Holiday Feast," shows her traveling cross-country, and meeting Americans with diverse heritages and culinary traditions.

Prep time: 20 hours

Cook time: 3 hours


  • 1 large hen
  • 2 lbs smoked sausage(s)
  • 1 large onion
  • 1 large bell pepper
  • 1 large bunch parsley (reserve handful for finish)
  • 1 large bunch green onions (reserve handful for finish)
  • 5 cups water starting
  • filé to taste


  • 1 cup cooking oil
  • 1 1 cup all purpose flour


  • Cut chicken and sausages into small pieces.
  • Season chicken with salt, pepper, and paprika.
  • In a large pot with lid, add chicken, sausages, ½ of chopped vegetables, water, and bring to a steady boil.
  • In a heavy skillet, place cooking oil and ap flour to make a roux.
  • Starting with a cold skillet, stir constantly until roux mixture reaches a rusty nail color or darker, if desired.
  • Turn off heat, add remaining chopped vegetables and continue to stir roux to help cool the mixture.
  • After the roux mixture stops cooking, uncover boiling pot, and carefully add roux mixture, one spoon at a time. (mixture will foam up at this point).
  • Stir pot after each addition of roux mixture until the pot settles down.
  • Continue this addition process until all roux is used. .
  • Continue to simmer uncovered gumbo pot for 2 hours (until chicken is tender).
  • Add more water to pot if needed.
  • Remove gumbo pot from heat and let rest for 30 minutes.
  • Check pot for visible grease cap and skim to remove.
  • Add reserved greenery and stir.
  • Add two (2) teaspoons filé and stir.
  • Serve over hot rice.
  • Individual addition of filé is made at this point.

(Both recipes courtesy "Lidia Celebrates America")

This segment aired on December 18, 2018.


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