Suddenly, it smells like Fall when I open the front door each morning. The scent of crisp air, with a hint of warmth for what the day might bring. These are the days where I can quickly fall down memory lane and recall wearing a jacket to school each morning, only to shed it for lunch and the walk home (yes, I’m that old where I walked to and from school each day). Fall and apples go hand in hand (when it’s not raining pumpkin spice everything) and there’s nothing that can beat a farm fresh apple in September. Since we went apple u-picking (see more details here) I wanted a savoury way to use up more of the Honeycrisp Apples we picked. I came up with this recipe for a Pork, Apple and Ale Pie. The pie innards are full of savoury Autumn flavours – filling ground pork, slightly sweet apples, bitter ale … it’s like you take Fall and throw it into a Shake-n-Bake bag, toss it around, and then put it inside some pie crust. And the crust! Herbs and mustard are added to the crust to play off the flavours on the inside and it’s SO flaky. The crust literally crumbles as your fork hits it. The aromas that came from the oven during cooking were filled with sage, beer, and leek, almost forcing me to crack another beer, open the window to let the cool evening air in, and sit back.
Originally, I was trying to make this Pork, Apple and Potato Pie recipe from Food and Wine Magazine to work. It ended up being way to full of starch for me. And you all know how much I love pastry and potatoes. By replacing the potatoes with leeks and adding more herbs, the dish takes on a lighter form that still delights, but didn’t leave me feeling like I had just eaten the entire pie. I also wanted to add bacon in with the pork to build more on the meat flavour profiles. I was also very keen to not have the dish sit on the stove for hours on end. By using a small amount of flour for the “sauce”, the beer and stock is thickened quickly allowing the pie to get into the oven.
I love a meat pie, but I’ve been weary of making them. They seem so daunting to me – even after making this pie which is silly. If I was smarter about the whole situation I would double the amount of pie crust I’m making and freeze one to allow for meat pie on repeat around here. I’d love to try to make a Scottish Meat Pie (Scots Pie I believe?), but the day will have to wait until I can carve out some time to make the crust and play around with the recipe. Some Scottish recipes I’ve forever avoiding since I know that I won’t be able to make them like my Nana.
Did my kids love this recipe? They loved the crust and the bacon. I think the beer provided a bitter note that was a bit much for them. It wasn’t noticeable to me, or Greg, but kids have sensitive taste buds as they have often double the amount of an adult, making each bite that much more intense (that’s why candy, salty treats, etc. taste so good to them, their tastes buds literally explode with delight). Sometimes, bitter notes can hit their tasted buds in the wrong way. They were also grumpy the day they had this so who knows. Maybe it was just a bad day in Toddler-ville.
- 1 1/2 cups water
- 1/4 cup plus 2 tbsp lard or vegetable shorting I used vegetable shorting
- 1/4 cup plus 2 tbsp unsalted butter
- 1 tbsp dijon mustard
- 4 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 tbsp kosher salt
- 1 tsp dried sage or 2 tsp fresh chopped leaves
- 1 tsp dried thyme or 2 tsp fresh leaves
- 4 slices rashers of bacon, thinly sliced into 1/2" wide pieces
- 2 leeks white and light green parts only, roughly chopped
- 1 lbs 454 grams ground pork
- 3 thyme sprigs
- 2 sage sprigs
- 4 garlic cloves minced
- salt and pepper
- 2 tbsp all-purpose flour
- 1 x 12 oz 330 ml bottle pale ale
- 1 1/2 cups chicken broth
- 2 apples Honeycrisp or Granny Smith
- 1 large egg beaten with 1 tsp water
In a medium sauce pan bring water, shortening/lard, butter, and mustard to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer until butter is melted, about 3 minutes.
In a large bowl whisk flour, salt, sage and thyme together. Stir in the shortening/lard mixture until a shaggy dough forms.
Turn out onto a lightly floured work surface and knead until smooth, about 3-5 minutes.
Shape into 2 disks with 1 slightly larger than the other. Wrap well in plastic wrap and refrigerate until chilled, about 2 hours.
Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Cook bacon pieces until slightly crispy and cooked through, about 5 minutes. Remove from skillet with a slotted spoon. Set bacon aside.
Leaving 2 tbsp of bacon fat in the skillet, add leeks and cook for 3-5 minutes, stirring occasionally until starting to soften. Add pork and mix, breaking up pork with a wooden spoon. Cook until pork is almost cooked through (no visible pink left), about 5 minutes more. Add thyme, sage, and garlic and season skillet with salt and pepper. Cook for 1-2 minutes further.
Sprinkle flour over contents in skillet. Stir until leeks and pork are fully coated with flour. Slowly (VERY slowly, starting with 2 tbsp at a time, then slowly increasing quantity to avoid lumps) add beer, stirring constantly. Add chicken broth and bring to a boil. Reduce temperature and simmer for about 10-15 minutes until liquid has thickened slightly.
Preheat oven to 400° F.
Add apples and return bacon to skillet. Toss to incorporate. Remove from heat and set aside.
On a lightly floured surface, roll out the large piece of pastry into a 12" circle (1/4" thick). Lay pastry into a 10" cast iron skillet. Place pork, apple, and ale mixture on top of pastry in cast iron skillet. Spread until reasonably even.
Rollout smaller pastry disk to 11" circle (1/4") and set on top of pie. Trim overhang to 1" if needed. Press pastry rims together and tuck into the skillet. Brush top with beaten egg mixture and cut a small hole or slits to let the air escape.
Place skillet on a large baking sheet (to catch any drippings) and bake for 30 minutes. Reduce heat to 375° F and bake for 40-45 more minutes.
Remove from oven and allow to cool for at least 20 minutes. Cut into wedges and serve.