This recipe combines my mother’s original pie crust recipe (she made the best pies in the world!) with some other experts’ tricks and my own experiments. The egg and the vinegar were Mom’s secrets. The vodka is an idea from Cooks Illustrated magazine—it lets you use more liquid for an easier-to-handle dough, without promoting the development of gluten, the way more water would. The 2:1 ratio of butter and lard comes from a story in the New York Times food section, where they experimented with all sorts of different fats and proportions. The lard gives the crust a flaky texture, and the butter gives it a wonderful flavor. Of course, you may not be as obsessive as I am. A lot of these directions and ingredients may seem a little over-the-top to you. You can take whatever shortcuts you like. Just don’t expect the results to be as good as if you did it the hard way! I’ve tested and compared all these nitpicky instructions to the easier, cheaper alternatives, and I’m convinced they really do make enough difference to be worth it. Try it my way just once and see if you don’t agree!