Apple and Ground Pork Pie with Cheddar-Sage Crust
My cookbook editor suggested this recipe, based on her memory of a savory pie served at a London pub. One half of the pie was filled with pork and the other with apples. In adapting this idea to my own taste, I decided to layer apples on top of a spiced ground-pork filling, rather than setting the two ingredients side by side. The flavors are fantastic together, and this dish has been the hit of many parties. It makes an especially good buffet option, as it can be served warm or at room temperature.
Apple Notes: As with all pie recipes, you want firm fruit here. Some good examples: Granny Smith, Arkansas Black, and Northern Spy for tart apples; and Golden Delicious, Jazz, or Pink Lady for sweet ones.
Equipment: 10- to 12-inch skillet; food processor; 9-inch deep-dish pie plate, preferably glass; parchment paper or wax paper
Total Time: 1
Yield: 1 pie (6-8 servings)
For the Crust:
- 2-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 teaspoons dried sage, finely crumbled
- 1/2 teaspoon table salt
- 16 tablespoons (2 sticks) chilled unsalted butter, cut into small cubes
- 3 ounces sharp Cheddar cheese, finely grated
- 6-8 tablespoons ice water
- 1 egg blended with 1 tablespoon water
- Fresh sage leaves
In a medium-size bowl, whisk together flour, sage, and salt until well combined. Sprinkle butter cubes over flour mixture and use your fingers to work them in (rub your thumb against your fingertips, smearing the butter as you do so). Do this until the mixture looks like cornmeal with some pea-sized bits of butter remaining.
Stir in cheese with a fork until evenly distributed. Sprinkle 6 tablespoons ice water over mixture and stir with a fork until dough begins to come together. If needed, add an additional tablespoon or two of ice water (you shouldn't need much more).
Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead 3 times. Gather dough into a ball, then divide into two portions, making one slightly bigger than the other. Press each portion down into a disk and wrap in plastic. Refrigerate at least 30 minutes.
For the Filling:
- 1-1/2 pounds (about 3 large) firm-sweet apples (see Apple Notes), unpeeled, cored, and cut into 1/4-inch-thick wedges
- 1-1/2 pounds firm-tart apples, unpeeled, cored, and cut into 1/4-inch-thick wedges
- 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 1 small onion, very finely chopped
- 2 pounds ground pork (preferably 15-17% fat)
- 1 tablespoon firmly packed light-brown sugar
- 1 teaspoon kosher or sea 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 breadcrumbs
In a skillet over medium-low heat, cook apples without oil, stirring gently, until they just begin to soften, 5-7 minutes. Transfer to a dish and set aside.
Add oil to pan and increase heat to medium-high. Add onion, pork, brown sugar, salt, and spices. Cook, using a wooden spoon to break up meat, until lightly browned, about 10 minutes. Let meat mixture cool 10 minutes; then transfer to a food processor. Add breadcrumbs and pulse five times until mixture has the texture of coarse sand. Set aside.
Prepare the crust: Unwrap the larger dough disk and put it in the center of a large sheet of parchment or waxed paper. Cover dough with a second sheet. Roll out, working from the center, to a 13-inch circle. Peel off top sheet and transfer dough to a pie plate, peeled side down. Peel off remaining sheet and press crust into the sides of the pie plate, draping any excess over the edge.
Unwrap the smaller dough disk and put it in the center of a large sheet of parchment or waxed paper. Cover dough with a second sheet Roll out, working from the center, to an 11-inch circle. Set aside.
Preheat oven to 425° and set a rack to the second-to-bottom position.
Fill the pie: Pour meat mixture into bottom crust and smooth top gently with a spatula.
Arrange cooked apple slices over meat, pressing down to smooth and neaten. Peel top paper sheet off top crust. Transfer, peeled side down, to pie; then peel off remaining parchment.
Using a sharp knife, make two 3-inch slashes in crust to let steam escape. Fold edges of bottom crust up over top crust and crimp edges to seal. Brush crust with egg wash and decorate with sage leaves if you like.
Bake at 425° 10 minutes; then reduce the heat to 375° and bake until crust is golden brown, 25-35 minutes longer. Remove from oven and let cool 25 minutes before serving.