So, appropriate for Halloween? Maybe?
It started as my annual “this is what I’m gonna make for the Wildwood Park Harvest Fest culinary competition,” which also becomes the annual “I’m too exhausted to enter the event, so I’ll just make the dish I had planned at home, a week or two later.” This year’s Harvest Fest ingredient was apples, and by golly, I wasn’t going to make just any old sweet dessert-type-thing.
After a few ideas of my own followed up with a bit of research, here’s what I ended up with. The hubs and big kid dug in, but neither were enthusiastic about finishing. It was a little too weird: Not sweet enough, not savory enough… something.
But when said pie sat in the fridge overnight, something magical happened. The flavors melded. The texture improved. While I’ll still tweak a few things next time, this is now a pie worth eating. I think.
The recipe below includes a few of those added tweaks, such as a glaze and a little more seasoning.
I’m still not sure if it’s a winner, but it’s definitely worth a shot, if you’re brave. I actually like it.
Just keep it in the fridge overnight, will ya?
Savory Apple Pie with Pork and Gluten-Free Cheddar Crust
- 1 cup gluten-free all-purpose flour
- 3/4 tsp. salt
- 3/4 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese
- 1/3 c. cold butter, cut into small cubes
- 2-3 T. cold water
- Extra GF flour for dusting your work surface
- 1 lb. pork loin (I used breakfast chops that were on sale), small dice
- 1 tsp. veg. oil
- 1/2 c. yellow onion, small dice
- 1 1/2 tsp. salt
- 1 c. apple cider
- 1 tsp. dried sage (1 1/2 tsp. if using fresh)
- 4 whole allspice
- 1 bay leaf
- 3 T. gluten-free all-purpose flour
- 1 c. milk
- 3 medium Granny Smith apples
- 3 medium Gala apples
- 2 T. sugar (plain, but Turbinado [raw sugar] would be nice)
- 1/2 c. apple cider
The crust can be made with regular, all-purpose flour if nobody in your family requires gluten-free. I tried a new GF blend, Gluten Free Pantry, with good results.
Mix the flour and salt in a medium bowl, then stir in the cheese until thoroughly combined. Cut the butter into the mixture with a pastry cutter until you get a sandy-looking mixture. Sprinkle in the water, one tablespoon at a time, mixing with your hand until the dough just holds together. You may not need all the water.
Press half the mixture into a 9-inch pie plate, working up the sides. (If you absolutely must roll it out old-school, be my guest, but this recipe works fine pressed in.) On a floured surface, roll the remainder into a disc to cover the entire top, or a flat piece for cutting out shapes. (I did this on a small flexible cutting mat that could be easily moved to the fridge.) Place both the pie plate and top into the fridge for now.
Place your diced pork loin and oil into a hot pot (I used my Dutch oven, but anything largish will work) and stir a couple minutes to sear. Turn down the heat to medium and add the yellow onion and salt. Cook another couple minutes to soften the onions, stirring occasionally.
Add the cup of apple cider, sage, whole allspice and bay leaf, bring to a simmer, reduce the heat and cover. Cook this over low heat for 20 to 30 minutes, or until the pork is tender. Remove the allspice and the bay leaf.
In a small bowl, mix the 3 T. flour and milk until well combined. Watch for lumps! (The pie pictured used a 1/4 c. flour and less milk and was way too thick.) Stir this slurry slowly (say that five times fast) into the pork mixture and simmer, stirring, until it’s just thickened up.
Peel and slice the apples very thinly. I used a Pampered Chef apple corer/slicer/peeler (I know, chefs, don’t judge me!) with good results. If you go this route, cut your resulting spirals at least in half, maybe quarters so they’ll come apart. Sprinkle with lemon juice or Fruit Fresh if you do this a bit ahead. I did this while the pork was simmering in the cider.
Remove the pie plate with bottom crust from the fridge. Place half the pork mixture in the crust. On top of that, place all the apples, sprinkling with sugar as you go to evenly distribute it. And over the apples, place the last of the pork mixture, spreading it evenly across the top.
Place the remaining crust over the top and shape as desired, with vents or designs, or cut several shapes to place over the top.
While the pie is in the oven, reduce the 1/2 c. apple cider in a small saucepan until just thickened, and cool slightly.
Bake at 450 degrees for 10 minutes, then reduce the temperature to 350 and bake for another 30 minutes. When there are 10 minutes left, remove the pie from the oven, brush on the cider glaze using a pastry brush, and return to the oven for the final 10 minutes or until the crust is finished and browned.
Chills and reheats well.