Apple pork pie with caramelized onion crust

Sometimes I get these crazy ideas into my head. I experiment a lot in the kitchen and sometimes they work and sometimes they don’t. Most of these experiments don’t get their own post here. Then there are times like today when I stumble across something so unexpected and tasty I can’t wait to share it with the world.

This idea all started the other night when I was in bed, doing what I always do when I’m hungry and can’t fall asleep… thinking about food. This particular night I was fantasizing about desserts gone savoury. A burnt garlic “brownie”….. ummmm no….. an onion sponge cake with a chevre tarragon mousse and salmon roe…. too fancy… SAVOURY APPLE PIE!

Apples and pork go together like a hammer and nails, so pork was definitely going to be the meat product of choice. I really wanted to make this an apple pie with pork in it (as opposed to a pork pie with apples), so I decided it would need spices like allspice and cloves. I even resolved to use a fruit crostata dough with less sugar in it. Still an apple pie with less sugar and bits of pork in it sounded kind of flat and to be honest, a little weird, so I did some more thinking. It needed something that could bridge the gap between sweet and savoury… something that could meld the light taste of the apples with the richness of the pork and crust… something like caramelized onions!

Thinking that it might get lost in the filling I decided to flavour the crust with it. To keep them from burning I only lightly caramelized them, and to keep them from ruining the texture of the dough I froze them, then processed them together with the frozen butter. The reason for the cold is to help prevent the formation of gluten in the flour. The cold butter also has the benefit of not integrating with the flour completely. These little frozen pebbles of butter when rolled out and layered create little flat pockets of fat that help puff up the dough and give it its gorgeous flaky layers.

The result was delicious! The crust was rich, buttery and flaky with sweet toasty flecks of caramelized onion. The liquid from the cooked apples and pork combined with the flour and spices to make a delightfully well balanced sauce that enrobes the alternating morsels of tender savoury pork and sweet juicy apples. I had 4 when they were still hot, then went back for seconds after they’d cooled down and they were just as good.

The onions did give the crust a mottled appearance, but I think this can be fixed by caramelizing the onions a little less and using an egg wash. Downsized a bit, these would make fantastic party appetizers and the leftovers would go nicely in a picnic lunch.

for crust
1 large onion
2 C flour
1 Tbs sugar
2 sticks frozen butter (1/2 lb)
1/4 C ice cold water

for filling
1 Tbs flour
2 tsp dark brown sugar
1/2 tsp sage
1/2 tsp all spice
1/8 tsp cloves
salt and pepper
2 medium fuji apples peeled cored and chopped
2 small 1″ thick pork chops brined then chopped into 1/2″cubes
if using lean pork, add 1 Tbs olive oil

See this recipe to brine the pork a day in advance. You can reduce the amount of brine since you only need to brine 2 small chops.

Slice the onion as thinly as possible and toss with a large pinch of salt. The salt helps breaks down the cell walls and speeds up caramelization. Add about 2 tsp of olive oil to a pan over medium heat and fry the onions until they are very soft and a light beige all the way through. Allow them to cool to room temperature then put them in the freezer.

Put the flour and sugar in the bowl of a food processor. Cut the frozen butter into small cubes then add to the food processor along with the caramelized onions. Pulse for 1 second at a time until the mixture resembles pea sized pebbles. Add 1/4 C of ice cold water and pulse until the mixture just starts to come together (but is still crumbly). Dump it out onto a work surface and quickly form into 2 round pucks. Wrap in plastic and refrigerate at least 1 hour.

For the filling, combine the flour, sugar, spices, salt and pepper in a small bowl and stir to combine. Cut the apples and brined pork and put them in a bowl. Sprinkle the flour mixture over the apples and pork and mix to evenly coat. If your pork is very lean, add about a tablespoon of olive oil to the mix.

Move the oven rack to the lower middle position and pre-heat the oven to 450 degrees F.

Lightly flour a work surface and roll out one puck of dough until about 1/8″ thick. Fold the top edge to the center then fold the bottom edge to the center. Fold the rounded bits to the left and right over to make an envelope shaped rectangle (see photo above). Flip the dough and roll this out trying to keep the rectangle shape until it’s about 12″x 8″. Cut this into six 4″ squares. Put these in the fridge and repeat with the other disc of dough.

When you have 12 square pieces of dough, gently press each piece into a muffin tin and fill with the filling. Fold the 4 edges of the dough together to close off the top of each pie. Brush the tops with and egg yolk and cream wash then put the tin in the oven.

Bake for 15-20 minutes or until the the filling is bubbly and the crust is golden brown. Remove from oven and allow them to cool until you can remove them by hand. Serve warm with a salad for dinner or cold as a snack or part of a picnic.

  • http://www.figandcherry.com/ Christie @ fig&cherry

    Mmmm, so good!

  • http://www.figandcherry.com/ Christie @ fig&cherry

    Mmmm, so good!

  • http://www.practicallydone.com/ helen

    It’s past midnight here, and I’m absolutely starving!

    Keep the crazy ideas coming. And by the way, why aren’t you 300 pounds!?

    • marc

      What makes you think I’m not;-P

  • http://www.practicallydone.com helen

    It’s past midnight here, and I’m absolutely starving!

    Keep the crazy ideas coming. And by the way, why aren’t you 300 pounds!?

    • marc

      What makes you think I’m not;-P

  • http://www.souvlakiforthesoul.com/ Peter G

    I love your thought process Marc when it comes to recipe creation. This is a real winner and a perfect balance of flavours!

  • http://www.souvlakiforthesoul.com Peter G

    I love your thought process Marc when it comes to recipe creation. This is a real winner and a perfect balance of flavours!

  • http://www.pigpigscorner.com/ Pigpigscorner

    I like the combination of apples and pork. And nice idea to put caramelised onions into the crust!

  • http://www.pigpigscorner.com/ Pigpigscorner

    I like the combination of apples and pork. And nice idea to put caramelised onions into the crust!

  • http://www.kalofagas.blogspot.com/ Peter

    Marc, not so crazy..the Quebecois have the Tortierre (ground pork, no apple) but similar concept.

    Pork w/ fruit are a natural and these would make a pleasant suprise on the cocktail circuit.

    • marc

      I’ll have to look that one up the next time I’m in Quebec:-)

  • http://www.kalofagas.blogspot.com Peter

    Marc, not so crazy..the Quebecois have the Tortierre (ground pork, no apple) but similar concept.

    Pork w/ fruit are a natural and these would make a pleasant suprise on the cocktail circuit.

    • marc

      I’ll have to look that one up the next time I’m in Quebec:-)

  • http://www.tribecayummymummy-cate.blogspot.com/ cate

    double yum! porkchops and applesauce are a classic…but i love the way you threw in the caramelised onions to give it another layer of flavor. my family is going to love this one; i can feel it.

  • http://www.tribecayummymummy-cate.blogspot.com cate

    double yum! porkchops and applesauce are a classic…but i love the way you threw in the caramelised onions to give it another layer of flavor. my family is going to love this one; i can feel it.

  • http://foodalogue.com/ Joan Nova

    What a treat for guests! I could just imagine their delight as they break open the little package wrapped in carmelized onion dough and find pork and apples!

  • http://foodalogue.com Joan Nova

    What a treat for guests! I could just imagine their delight as they break open the little package wrapped in carmelized onion dough and find pork and apples!

  • http://TheRecipeGirl.blogspot.com/ RecipeGirl

    Brilliant idea! I love your discovery. Those are flavors that work so well together too!

  • http://TheRecipeGirl.blogspot.com RecipeGirl

    Brilliant idea! I love your discovery. Those are flavors that work so well together too!

  • http://www.everydaycookin.blogspot.com/ Darius T. williams

    Crazy idea or not – I’d say this TOTALLY works.

  • http://www.everydaycookin.blogspot.com Darius T. williams

    Crazy idea or not – I’d say this TOTALLY works.

  • http://whatimadefordinner.blogspot.com/ Adrana

    Oh wow, that looks fabulous. If only I had the time…dying to try the caramelized onion crust. Great idea.

    • marc

      I think the crust would be good for other things like quiche as well:-)

  • http://whatimadefordinner.blogspot.com Adrana

    Oh wow, that looks fabulous. If only I had the time…dying to try the caramelized onion crust. Great idea.

    • marc

      I think the crust would be good for other things like quiche as well:-)

  • http://www.foodgal.com Carolyn Jung

    This is like an entree and dessert all in one. Even better, you can eat it with your hands. It’s the perfect meal!

  • http://www.foodgal.com/ Carolyn Jung

    This is like an entree and dessert all in one. Even better, you can eat it with your hands. It’s the perfect meal!

  • http://tastewiththeeyes.blogspot.com/ Lori Lynn

    Gee, they sound great! You are quite a scientist to determine how to make the onions work in the dough. Congrats on this recipe!

    • marc

      More like a mad scientist:-) I just experiment until something works.

  • http://tastewiththeeyes.blogspot.com/ Lori Lynn

    Gee, they sound great! You are quite a scientist to determine how to make the onions work in the dough. Congrats on this recipe!

    • marc

      More like a mad scientist:-) I just experiment until something works.

  • Zenchef

    Oh my gosh, this is perfect for indecisive people like me. Pork or dessert? Have both at the same time! Brilliant.

  • Zenchef

    Oh my gosh, this is perfect for indecisive people like me. Pork or dessert? Have both at the same time! Brilliant.

  • http://illeatyou.com/ Lauren

    This is a fantastic idea!! and I love how they are mini- well, small. please send me one. please.

  • http://illeatyou.com Lauren

    This is a fantastic idea!! and I love how they are mini- well, small. please send me one. please.

  • http://www.sweetsfoods.com/ Gera

    Hi Marc!

    That looks gorgeous and sounds fabulous, the caramelized onion and crunchy appearance make this a must on my list to try it :)!

    Gera .:. sweetsfoods

  • http://www.sweetsfoods.com/ Gera

    Hi Marc!

    That looks gorgeous and sounds fabulous, the caramelized onion and crunchy appearance make this a must on my list to try it :)!

    Gera .:. sweetsfoods

  • http://simmertilldone.com/ marilyn @ simmer till done

    Oh, now this is something I can sink my teeth into. Maybe a few times. Decadent, delicious and just right for winter!

  • http://simmertilldone.com marilyn @ simmer till done

    Oh, now this is something I can sink my teeth into. Maybe a few times. Decadent, delicious and just right for winter!

  • http://blog.lemonpi.net/ Y

    These look delicious! Love the idea!

  • http://blog.lemonpi.net Y

    These look delicious! Love the idea!

  • http://noobcook.com/ noobcook

    looks yummy! What a great idea & they look so small and cute =)

  • http://noobcook.com noobcook

    looks yummy! What a great idea & they look so small and cute =)

  • http://closetcooking.blogspot.com/ Kevin

    Apple and pork do go well together and this sounds like a great way to enjoy them together.

    • marghen

      yeah its true .

  • http://closetcooking.blogspot.com/ Kevin

    Apple and pork do go well together and this sounds like a great way to enjoy them together.

  • http://www.applepiepatispate.com/ Jude

    A savory apple pie, huh? Makes perfect sense to me if pork is involved :)

  • http://www.applepiepatispate.com Jude

    A savory apple pie, huh? Makes perfect sense to me if pork is involved :)

  • http://londoneater.com/ kang at LE

    Great idea of a recipe and surely tasted as good as your photos :D

    im having custard creams and diet coke as I read this.

    londoneater.com

  • http://londoneater.com kang at LE

    Great idea of a recipe and surely tasted as good as your photos :D

    im having custard creams and diet coke as I read this.

    londoneater.com

  • http://www.mevrouwcupcake.com/ Mari (Mevrouw Cupcake)

    I can just envision my boyfriend popping these in his mouth, one after another! I tried making a pork and apple hand pie last winter and they just weren’t that great, this is what I craving! Can’t wait to give them a try!

  • http://www.mevrouwcupcake.com Mari (Mevrouw Cupcake)

    I can just envision my boyfriend popping these in his mouth, one after another! I tried making a pork and apple hand pie last winter and they just weren’t that great, this is what I craving! Can’t wait to give them a try!

  • http://joiedevivreanamateurgourmetsguide.blogspot.com/ Joie de vivre

    Brilliant! I’m glad you didn’t go with the onion sponge cake.

  • http://joiedevivreanamateurgourmetsguide.blogspot.com/ Joie de vivre

    Brilliant! I’m glad you didn’t go with the onion sponge cake.

  • http://voodoolily.blogspot.com/ Heather

    Oh my god. This is brilliant! And I don’t mean in that British “everything cool is brilliant” way, I mean this is a stroke of genius.

    btw, onion spongecake would be awesome. I’m totally in love with those Vietnamese scallion and pork floss pastries, and the sweet scallion buns at dim sum. Do eet!

    • marc

      Aww shucks:-) Well I guess if you put it like that now I have to make the onion sponge cake.

  • http://voodoolily.blogspot.com Heather

    Oh my god. This is brilliant! And I don’t mean in that British “everything cool is brilliant” way, I mean this is a stroke of genius.

    btw, onion spongecake would be awesome. I’m totally in love with those Vietnamese scallion and pork floss pastries, and the sweet scallion buns at dim sum. Do eet!

    • marc

      Aww shucks:-) Well I guess if you put it like that now I have to make the onion sponge cake.

  • http://www.brooklynfarmhouse.com/ brooklyn farmhouse

    I can’t wait to try this!

  • http://www.brooklynfarmhouse.com brooklyn farmhouse

    I can’t wait to try this!

  • http://smallkitchenbigideas.wordpress.com/ Sara

    This sounds intriguing…

  • http://smallkitchenbigideas.wordpress.com Sara

    This sounds intriguing…

  • http://manggy.blogspot.com/ Manggy

    Oh, AWESOME. You already know I love it when you bake, but I doubly love it when you’re crazy :) Glad it worked out. But please, never mention burned garlic brownies again!

  • http://manggy.blogspot.com Manggy

    Oh, AWESOME. You already know I love it when you bake, but I doubly love it when you’re crazy :) Glad it worked out. But please, never mention burned garlic brownies again!

  • Karl

    Just made this for dinner, had it with a Caesar salad, and it was EXCELLENT. The crust was really flaky, and the onion flavor was real subtle. And you can’t beat pork-juice soaked warm apples! I bet this would work really well with Honeycrisp apples as well, but I know they aren’t available everywhere.

    Thanks for sharing the recipe!

  • Karl

    Just made this for dinner, had it with a Caesar salad, and it was EXCELLENT. The crust was really flaky, and the onion flavor was real subtle. And you can’t beat pork-juice soaked warm apples! I bet this would work really well with Honeycrisp apples as well, but I know they aren’t available everywhere.

    Thanks for sharing the recipe!

  • http://www.kyotofoodie.com/ Peko P

    Another amazing combination of ingredients!

  • http://www.kyotofoodie.com Peko P

    Another amazing combination of ingredients!

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  • Judyt

    made these for my very British-scared of seasonings- husband ……didnt tell him what it was. and he LOVED them! ha! score one….
    Love your website and just keep those midnight inspirations coming!

  • Judyt

    made these for my very British-scared of seasonings- husband ……didnt tell him what it was. and he LOVED them! ha! score one….
    Love your website and just keep those midnight inspirations coming!

  • http://eleanorhoh.blogspot.com/ Eleanor Hoh(WokStar)

    I wish you could package this in stores! It's a perfect bite size when you're hungry and crave savory not too sweet but yours satisfies both! In Hong Kong, you get curry beef puffs or chicken pies at nearly every street corner. Why don't you get a big company to make yours so we can get it anywhere, pretty please?

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  • tatiemily

    So I just tried this for a huge family gathering. Had to make a lot so needed something that didn’t have to be “fresh out of the oven”. The only change I made was that I substituted 1/2 of the butter with 1/2 leaf lard and used home ground pork shoulder (easier to eat for the many very small children). Several said “oh, mini empanadas” :( and a debate ensued as to what they really were. But, everyone insisted on getting both the dough and filling recipes because everyone agreed it was “different”. This is a case of: yes it is similar to empanadas, but it’s the differences that sets it a world apart.
    So now you’ve got me thinking about what else I could add to my crust and/or filling to make it different.

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I'm Marc, and I want to teach you some basic techniques and give you the confidence and inspiration so that you can cook without recipes too!

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