Thursday, September 6, 2012

Crunchy Wife in the Kitchen: Pork & Apple Pie

If you haven't quite figured it out yet, I am late for everything.  We might have to switch this Recipe Wednesday thing to a Recipe Thursday or Friday or Weekly Recipe sort of thing.

So, if you got here via Facebook, you probably know I've been planning on making this for a couple of days.  The life of a grad student took over, and experiments prevented me from making a home-cooked meal for a couple of days.

Autumn is my favorite season of the year.  I call it "autumn" and not "fall" because "fall" is something clumsy people do.  "Autumn" is the feeling of the first winter chills in the air, the turning of leaves into a mosaic of toasty colors, and the start of a season of recipes that have been designed specifically for the end of a peak of harvest.  That is my favorite part about Autumn.  There are a few recipes I have reserved which only make it to the dinner table during this time of year.  In the next few weeks, you'll see more and more of these pop up on the Crunchy Wife WV.

This pie is not vegetarian, but I'm sure a similar pot pie concept could be applied in a vegetarian manner.  I just haven't attempted it yet.  I'm thinking you could probably substitute butternut squash for the pork, but you would have to get your protein somewhere else.  Sharp Cheddar would be an excellent accompaniment to this dish.

Because only a little bit of a few ingredients are used, this recipe can be relatively inexpensive, especially if you make the crust yourself.  If you wish to keep the pork in the mix, you can possible cut the amount of pork in half and load up with some more veggies.  I used 4 pork chops here because I really wanted the flavor and moisture of the pork to permeate the dish.  The chops I used were pretty lean, but the small amount of fat left on the chop was enough to render into the dish and make for a moist and savory filling.  If you can get your hands on some sweet heirloom carrots for this recipe, I'm sure they would be an excellent addition.  You might even try parsnips.  Unfortunately, I had to settle for run-of-the-mill, store-bought organically-grown carrots.

Here's what I came with, with lots of tweaking along the way, and lots of tweaking to come.

Crunchy Wife WV Pork & Apple Pie

4 boneless pork chops, diced
2 tbsp flour
Salt, Pepper to taste
Trader Joe's 21 Seasoning salute, to taste
1 tsp onion powder
1 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp ground sage
A few dashes each: ground cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, and ginger (pumpkin pie spice)
1 tbsp grapeseed oil (or canola)
Fruit and Vegetable filling:
2 Gala or similar cooking apples, sliced
1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
1 medium onion, diced
2 carrots, sliced
3 stalks celery, sliced
1/2 tsp each:  ground cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, ginger, garlic powder, and onion powder
1/4 tsp ground sage
1 tsp grapeseed oil (or canola)
3 tbsp flour
Salt and pepper to taste

Homemade or store bought pie crust for two crust pie

Toss diced pork chops in dry ingredients.  Heat skillet on medium high heat, and add meat to brown.  Set meat to side when done cooking.

Toss sliced apples in vinegar to prevent browning.  Toss onions, celery, and carrots in dry spices.  To the same skillet, heat the teaspoon of oil.  Saute vegetables until onions are translucent and carrots and celery become tender.

Mix pork, vegetables, and apples together with flour.  Evenly fold together to make an even mixture.

Roll out the pie crust to cover the bottom of a greased 9- or 10-inch glass pie plate.  Press crust into bottom of plate, making sure sides come up to the top or over the top of the pie plate.  Fill unbaked crust with pork/vegetable/fruit filling.  Lay second pie crust on top of pie.  Press edges of top and bottom crust together.  Seal by fluting or pressing together with the tongs of a fork.  Slit the top pie crust to vent (get creative with a design!).  Brush top of pie with an egg wash and sprinkle with herbs or spice, if desired.  Place in a 375 degree F oven and bake for 45-60 minutes, until crust is golden brown on top and bottom.  Serve warm or cold.

This turned out to be pretty delicious.  It was all I could do to eat only one piece.  If I had it to do over, I would put it all together in pre-baked pie form and marinate it overnight to allow the flavors to blend more.  That might make for a soggy-bottomed pie, though, so perhaps marinating the cooked meat and veggies together outside of the pie crust would be a better idea.

I served this up with some roasted butternut squash (recipe to come) and some green beans.  Really it was a simple meal to put together and satisfied my craving for a hearty autumn meal.  Plus, it helped me practice for  holiday pie-cutting, which as you can see, obviously needs a lot of work!  The first slice is always the hardest :)  Green Appetit!

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