I’ve been searching for recipes to served around Thanksgiving to any vegetarians or vegans who may come to my table. This pie is not one of them. The crust contains butter and cheese, and the filling contains pork along with the apples. The result is autumn in a dish. The recipe comes from Amy Traverso’s “The Apple Lover’s Cookbook” (W.W. Norton, 2011), a book to treasure during apple season.
It’s a wordy recipe that leaves little space for commentary. In short: Read the book, learn lots about apples, cook some great recipes. Apologize to vegans, when your mouth is no longer full.
Pork & Apple Pie with Cheddar Sage Crust
For the crust:
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons dried sage, finely crumbled
1/2 teaspoon salt
16 tablespoons unsalted butter, chilled and cut into small cubes
3 ounces sharp cheddar cheese, finely grated
6 to 8 tablespoons ice water
For the filling:
1 1/2 pounds firm, sweet apples (Golden Delicious, Jazz or Pink Lady), unpeeled, cored and cut into 1/4-inch-thick wedges
1 1/2 pounds firm, tart apples (Granny Smith, Arkansas Black or Northern Spy), unpeeled, cored and cut into 1/4-inch-thick wedges
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 small onion, finely chopped
2 pounds ground pork (preferably 15 to 17 percent fat)
1 tablespoon firmly packed light brown sugar
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
3 1/2 tablespoons plain bread crumbs
For finishing the pie:
1 egg blended with 1 tablespoon water
Fresh sage leaves (optional)
Make the crust: In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, sage and salt until well combined. Sprinkle butter cubes over the flour mixture and use your fingers to work them in. Do this until the mixture looks like cornmeal, with some pea-sized bits of butter remaining. Stir in the cheese with a fork to distribute evenly. Sprinkle 6 tablespoons ice water over the mixture and stir with a fork until the dough begins to come together. If needed, add an additional tablespoon or two of ice water. Turn out the dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead three times. Gather the dough into a ball, then divide into two portions, making one slightly bigger than the other. Press each portion into a disk and wrap in plastic wrap. Refrigerate at least 30 minutes.
Make the filling: In a skillet over medium-low heat, cook the apples without any oil, stirring gently, until they just begin to soften, 5 to 7 minutes. Transfer to a dish; set aside. Add oil to the pan and increase heat to medium-high. Add onion, pork, brown sugar, salt and spices. Cook, stirring to break up the meat, until it is lightly browned, about 10 minutes. Let the meat mixture cool 10 minutes, then transfer to a food processor. Add bread crumbs and pulse five times, or until the mixture has the texture of coarse sand. Set aside.
Prepare the crust: Unwrap the larger disk of dough and put it in the center of a large sheet of parchment paper or wax paper. Cover the dough with a second piece of paper. Roll out, working from the center, to a 13-inch circle. Peel off the top piece of parchment and transfer the dough to a deep-dish 9-inch pie plate, peeled side down. Peel off the remaining parchment and press the crust into the sides of the pie plate, draping any excess over the edge. Unwrap the smaller disk of dough and put it in the center of a large sheet of parchment or wax paper. Cover the dough with a second piece of paper. Roll out, working from the center, to an 11-inch circle. Set aside.
Set a rack in the second-from-the-bottom position of the oven. Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
Assemble the pie: Pour meat mixture into the bottom crust and gently smooth with a spatula. Arrange apple slices over the meat, pressing down to make the whole construction as smooth and neat as possible. Peel the top sheet of parchment off the top crust. Transfer, peeled side down, to the pie, then peel off the remaining parchment.
Using a sharp knife, make two 3-inch slashes in the crust to allow steam to escape. Fold the edges of the bottom crust up over the top crust and crimp the edges to seal. Brush the crust with the egg wash and decorate with sage leaves, if desired. Bake at 425 degrees for 10 minutes, then reduce the heat to 375 degrees and bake until the crust is golden brown, 25 to 35 minutes more. Remove from oven and let cool 25 minutes before serving.
Yield: 8 to 10 servings