From Cook's Country
We wanted a pie that had a firm, glistening filling full of fresh, bright flavor and still-plump berries. To thicken the pie, we favored tapioca because it didn’t mute the fresh yet subtle blueberry flavor as cornstarch and flour did. A second inspiration came from a peeled and grated Granny Smith apple. Apples are high in pectin, a type of carbohydrate that acts as a thickener when cooked. Combined with a modest 2 tablespoons of tapioca, the apple thickened the filling to a soft, even consistency that was neither gelatinous nor slippery. The crust posed a much simpler challenge. As with all of our fruit pies, baking on a preheated baking sheet on the bottom oven rack produced a crisp, golden bottom crust. And we found a fast, easy alternative to a lattice top in a small biscuit cutter, which we used to cut out circles in the top crust before transferring the dough onto the pie. The attractive, unusual-looking top crust vented the steam from the berries as successfully as a classic lattice top.
We developed this recipe with fresh blueberries, but you can use unthawed frozen berries, too. In step 4, cook half of the frozen berries over medium-high heat, without mashing, until reduced to 1 1/4 cups. 12 to 15 minutes. If you use pearl tapioca, use just 5 teaspoons. Vodka is essential to the texture of the crust and imparts no flavor; do not substitute.
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