Sit down kids, it’s time for a story. A year ago two of my co-workers went to an apple orchard. On the way home, they stopped at a butcher and bought, among other things, cinnamon bacon. Now, they didn’t plan this, but once cinnamon bacon and apples were in the same car, it was only a matter of time before someone said “Bacon Apple Pie!” And so it came to pass.
A pie was attempted that very day. It was made with care, with love, and yes, with bacon. And yet somehow the pie was bad. In fact the words used to describe this pie were “tasted like bile.” Immediately upon hearing this story, I denounced the failed pie-maker and I swore that I could successfully make a bacon apple pie…one that would be not just good, but transcendent.
I made plans with another co-worker to make this holy grail of pies. But somewhere along the line, things got a bit off course. We decided to use pears instead of apples. Then we decided not to make a pie at all. Maybe it was nerves, maybe it was just a creative inspiration…it was a year ago, I honestly don’t remember the reasons. But suddenly our plans for bacon apple pie turned into a bacon pear clafouti and a pear upside down bacon cake. They were both quite good, especially the upside down cake, but neither could be considered a pie by any stretch of the imagination. Nevertheless, I congratulated myself on a job well done and forgot about the whole thing.
Until this year when I went to the orchard with my family. Suddenly I had an abundance of apples and no plans for them. And so, I embarked upon an epic quest to create the perfect bacon apple pie.
That quest, unfortunately, has not yet been completed. I have, however, created a very good bacon apple pie. It’s sweet, salty, a little meaty, just a bit smoky with a hint of spices. The thing is, it doesn’t quite feel like a cohesive whole. It’s more like a good apple pie with some bacon. The flavors complement each other well, but they haven’t quite merged into that transcendent whole-is-more-than-the-sum-of-its-parts experience that i just know this pie could (and eventually will) be. That said, this pie as is tastes pretty great; I have no qualms about posting this recipe. But that doesn’t mean I won’t continue to tweak it in search of perfection.
The bacon lattice really doesn’t want to stay tucked in around the edges of the pie. Be sure to include extra bacon sticking off the edge of the pie and tuck it down the inside of the crust to help mitigate this. Also, having a larger rim of pie dough to extend a bit further toward the center of the pie would probably help.
The quality of the bacon here matters. You want a bacon with a good amount of fat for the lattice top, since that’s replacing the butter usually included in apple pie filling. You also want a bacon with a good flavor when fried and eaten alone, because that’s almost what you have on top the pie.
I should also admit that I used store-bought pie crust. Honestly, I think the stuff you buy in rolls in the fridge case is almost as good as home made and a hell of a lot easier.
1 9″ pie crust
3 strips bacon, chopped and fried crispy
6-7 medium to large tart apples, peeled, cored and sliced (I used a combination of Cortlands and Ida Reds)
1/4 cup dark brown sugar
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp cloves
2 Tbsp plus 1 tsp cornstarch
1 Tbsp Scotch (I used Johnny Black. You want something noticeably smoky.)
1/2 cup real maple syrup
6-7 slices bacon, halved lengthwise
Preheat the oven to 350 F. Spread the pie crust in a 9″ pie pan and leave the overhanging edges. Sprinkle the bacon crumbles over the crust.
Mix together the apple slices, brown sugar, nutmeg, cloves, cornstarch and scotch. Spread over the bacon in the pie crust. Pour the maple syrup evenly over the apples.
Arrange the strips of bacon over the top of the pie crust in a lattice, then fold the edges of the pie crust over the bacon and crimp.
Bake for about an hour, until the bacon on top is nicely crisp, the crust is browned and a knife pushes easily into an apple slice. (Happily, these should all happen at roughly the same time.)
Footnote: Before I made my pie, I did a few quick searches to see who else had already made bacon apple pies in blogland. The answer, shockingly, was almost no one. (Although I did steal the bacon lattice top idea from one of them.) Even with the full saturation of bacon into the blogosphere, it seems bacon apple pie is nearly untouched.
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