November 13, 2013

Bear Essentials: Apples
( + Pork and Apple Pie with Cheddar-Sage Crust )

Remember how I told you that I'm completely unimpressed by crust?

There's an exception to every rule.

         This crust is different.  This crust sings with cheese, crackling and flaky and salted.

And that's just the outside.  Inside is a thick layer of ground spiced pork, which in itself would make for an above-average dinner.  But instead the pie doubles down and adds in a blanket of sauteed apples.

I was hesitant at the idea of a meat pie.  The phrase itself is less than appetizing.  But a moment's thought reminded me that I've been eating pasties all my life - the simplest made just of meat and potatoes wrapped in a pie crust packet.  Next to that, this pie is a complex work of genius - sweet and salty, crispy and meltingly soft.

                     And finally, we've found a pie crust that pulls its own weight.

Pork and Apple Pie with Cheddar-Sage Crust
barely adapted from The Apple Lover's Cookbook
by Amy Traverso

Flour  [ 2 1/2 cups, plus more for sprinkling ]
Dried Sage  [ finely crumbled, 2 teaspoons ]
Salt  [ 1/2 teaspoon ]
Unsalted Butter  [ 1 cup, cut into small cubes ]
Sharp Cheddar Cheese  [ 3 ounces, finely grated ]
Ice Water  [ 6-8 tablespoons ]
Egg  [ 1, whisked with 1 tablespoon water ]

Golden Delicious Apples  [ 1 1/2 pounds, cored and cut into 1/4-inch-thick wedges ]
Granny Smith Apples  [ 1 1/2 pounds, cored and cut into 1/4-inch thick wedges ]
Vegetable Oil  [ 2 tablespoons ]
Onion  [ 1 small, very finely chopped ]
Ground Pork  [ 2 pounds ]
Light Brown Sugar  [ packed, 1 tablespoon ]
Kosher Salt  [ 1 teaspoon ]
Cinnamon  [ 1/2 teaspoon ]
Ground Ginger  [ 1/2 teaspoon ]
Ground Cloves  [ 1/4 teaspoon ]
Ground Allspice  [ 1/4 teaspoon ]
Plain Dried Breadcrumbs  [ 3 1/2 tablespoons ]

Make Crust:
1.   In a medium bowl, whisk together Flour, Sage and Salt.
2.   Sprinkle Butter Cubes over Flour Mixture and mix together by rubbing between your thumbs and 
3.   Continue mixing until Mixture is the consistency of cornmeal with the occasional pea-sized lump of 
4.   With a fork, stir in Cheese.
5.   Sprinkle 6 tablespoons of the Ice Water over Mixture; stir with a fork until dough begins to come 
        together.  If necessary, add additional 1-2 tablespoons of the Ice Water.
6.   Lightly sprinkle counter with Flour.
7.   Turn out Dough onto floured counter; knead 3 times just to bring mixture together.
8.   Gather Dough into a ball, and break into 2 portions, one slightly larger than the other.
9.   Pat each portion into a disk, wrap in plastic wrap, and place in refrigerator for at least 30 minutes.

Make Filling:
10.   Meanwhile, in a large pan over Medium-Low heat, cook Apples, stirring gently, until they begin to 
            soften  [ about 5-7 minutes ]
11.   Transfer Apples to a plate and set aside.
12.   Return pan to stove and add Oil; increase heat to Medium-High.
13.   Add Onion, Pork, Brown Sugar, Salt, Cinnamon, Ginger, Cloves, and Allspice.
14.   Cook, breaking up Pork with a wooden spoon, until lightly browned  [ about 10 minutes ]
15.   Let cool 10 minutes.
16.   Place Pork Mixture and Bread Crumbs in food processor.  Pulse until Mixture is the texture of 
            coarse sand  [ about 5 pulses ].  Set aside.

Prepare Dough:
17.   Unwrap larger disc of Dough and place between two large sheets of parchment or wax paper.
18.   Roll out to a 15-inch circle.
19.   Remove top piece of parchment paper and upend Dough into 12-inch pie plate.
20.   Peel off remaining piece of parchment paper and press Dough into corners of pie plate, draping excess 
             over the edge.
21.   Unwrap second disc of Dough and repeat rolling process, rolling into a 14-inch circle.  Set aide.

Assemble Pie:
22.   Heat oven to 425 degrees F.
23.   Pour Pork Mixture into an even layer in bottom crust.
24.   Neatly arrange cooked Apples in an even layer over the Pork, pressing down gently to smooth out 
25.   Peel top layer of parchment paper off of top Crust and upend crust onto top of pie.
26.   Peel off remaining sheet of parchment.
27.   Using a sharp knife, cut two 3-inch slits in top of pie to allow steam to escape.
28.   Fold edges of bottom crust up over edges of top crust, and crimp crust decoratively.
29.   Brush Crust with Egg-Water Mixture.
30.   Bake 10 minutes.
31.   Reduce heat to 375 degrees; continue to bake until crust is golden-brown  [ about 25-35 minutes ]
32.   Remove from oven; allow to cool on a rack at least 25 minutes before serving.

Notes: this recipe originally called for a deep-dish 9-inch pan.  After making the filling, however, I looked at it and looked at the pan and realized that the first item was never going to fit inside the second.  After further inspection, I determined that the "deep dish" pie plate I had bought was exactly the same depth as the "standard" pie plate I had bought from the same company.  Awesome.  So I rolled the dough a little thinner and cooked the pie in a beautiful 12-inch pie plate that I happen to own.  The cooking time was more or less identical, so don't feel the need to go out and buy a 12-inch pan if you don't have one.  An actually deep-dish 9-inch pan should work just fine.  ]

Makes one 12-inch pie.

   Love a savory pie?
Quiche Lorraine

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