2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into cubes, chilled, divided
2 cups pomegranate juice
1 cup dark brown sugar
3 strips lemon zest (optional)
6 tablespoons cornstarch
4 pounds firm pears, such as d'Anjou or Bartlett, slightly underripe, peeled and cored, sliced about 1/4 inch thick
1 tablespoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 egg, lightly beaten
In a large bowl, stir together the flour and salt. Add the chilled, cubed butter. Use your hands or a pastry cutter to cut butter into flour until butter pieces are slightly smaller than a pea and mixture resembles cornmeal. Add 2 tablespoons of cold water and gently stir mixture together with your hands or a fork just until mixture is evenly moist but not sticky. If mixture is too dry, add more cold water 1 tablespoon at a time until it reaches desired consistency.
Alternatively, in a food processor combine flour and salt. Pulse to mix. Add chilled, cubed butter and pulse until butter pieces are slightly smaller than a pea and mixture resembles cornmeal. Add 2 tablespoons of cold water and pulse until mixture is evenly moist but not sticky. If mixture is too dry, add more cold water 1 tablespoon at a time.
Lay a sheet of plastic wrap on counter and turn dough onto it. Push dough together to form a ball and wrap well in plastic. Refrigerate until chilled, at least 30 minutes and up to 2 days.
When ready to make filling, combine the pomegranate juice, brown sugar and lemon zest in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to medium. Cook, stirring occasionally, until liquid is reduced by half and is very thick, about 20 to 30 minutes.
In a small glass whisk together the corn starch with 4 tablespoons water. While whisking pomegranate syrup, slowly pour in cornstarch mixture. Bring mixture to a boil and cook for 1 minute. Remove syrup from heat, discard lemon zest, and cool to room temperature.
Heat oven to 400 F.
Lightly dust counter with flour. Remove dough from refrigerator and cut in half. Roll out one half to about 1/8-inch thickness. Transfer dough to an 9-inch, deep-dish pie plate and press it gently into plate. Set aside.
In a large bowl, combine the pears, cooled pomegranate mixture, the cinnamon and nutmeg. Toss well to combine. Transfer mixture to dough-lined pie plate, pressing fruit down or mounding it as needed to fit.
With a pastry brush, brush overhanging pie dough lightly with the beaten egg.
If needed, lightly dust counter with flour. Roll second dough half out to a thickness of about 1/8 inch. Use cookie cutters or a paring knife to cut 2 or 3 small holes at center.
Carefully place rolled crust over pie, centering holes over top center of pie. Press together overhanging dough at sides to seal with egg.
Trim overhanging dough to about 1 inch all around pie and fold overhang under itself so that it rests on pie plate's lip. Decorate pie edges as desired and lightly brush entire top and edges with remaining beaten egg.
Transfer pie to a rimmed baking sheet and bake until crust is deep golden brown and filling is bubbling, about 50 to 55 minutes. Transfer pie to a cooling rack and cool to room temperature before serving.
Makes 8 servings.