Every year as harvest winds down I have to recalibrate my cooking with the rest of my life.
Our last harvest dinner was Saturday night. It was pretty festive with lots of wine of course, and laughing and singing late into the night. Sunday was the perfect day for doing not much more than lazing around the house. I did manage to roast a chicken – a Sunday tradition and the ideal cure for life’s excesses – for just our family (only four people – so odd!) for dinner and before we sat down to eat it we took all the leaves out of the table and went back to the regular size. It looks so tiny!
But before we get too far away from the harvest stories, I want to share one or two more recipes with you.
Every year we poll the crew and we ask what the favorite meal of the season has been. Invariably the winner is meatloaf (they’re so predictable). But this year there was a close contender. It’s a new recipe I recently discovered called Pork Pie.
I found it in Tyler Florence’s book Family Meal (he calls it “Porkie Pie” but that’s a bit much for me!). I was really intrigued by it because it seems like something I would have eaten when my family lived in England when I was young. When I was working on Wine Club recipes just before harvest (members of our Wine Club get three to four shipments a year of a selection of our wines and I pair a recipe with each wine; our club members love it) I thought I would give the pie a whirl and see if it was a match with any of the Pinots. Pork and Pinot noir is often a winning combination. Sure enough, it was a hit with our 2013 Menefee Vineyard Pinot so the recipe went out with the others to our members.
But I made a note to myself that this would also be a terrific harvest recipe. It’s hearty, warm and rich – all important qualities in a harvest meal.
It takes a little effort, the pie crust has to be made and rolled out, the meat browned, the pie baked, the sauce made, but it’s all worth it. Think of this as a special occasion dish – with all that butter I’m sure you’ll want to anyway – or at least a weekend project. The resulting pie is comforting and warm. Perfect for a chilly fall evening. All you need to serve alongside it is a big green salad with a lemon-y vinaigrette, though you could do some roasted broccoli or cauliflower too.
- 2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 cup plus 4 tablespoons (2 1/2 sticks) chilled butter, cut into 1 inch pieces
- 4 tablespoons ice water
- 1 tablespoon vinegar (I use Apple Cider vinegar)
- 2 large carrots, well scrubbed and coarsely chopped
- 2 celery stalks, coarsely chopped
- 1 large yellow onion, coarsely chopped
- 3-4 garlic cloves, peeled
- Extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 pounds ground pork
- 3 tablespoons tomato paste
- 1 14.5 ounce can chopped tomatoes, with their juices (I use Muir Glen Fire Roasted)
- leaves from one bunch fresh thyme
- 4 cups dry red wine
- kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 1 egg, lightly beaten
- 4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) butter
- 1/4 cup all purpose flour
- Combine the flour and salt in the bowl of a food processor, pulse to combine. Add the cold butter and continue to pulse until the butter is incorporated and the texture of the dough looks like coarse breadcrumbs. Add the ice water and vinegar and process until the dough just comes together. Dump it out onto the counter and knead it a bit to bring it together. Divide the dough into two pieces, one somewhat larger than the other. The larger piece will be for the bottom crust, so approximately 2/3 to 1/3. Shape each piece into a disk and then wrap them separately in plastic wrap. Refrigerate for at least two hours or longer.
- Combine the carrots, celery, onions and garlic in a food processor and pulse until coarsely and somewhat uniformly chopped.
- In a large mixing bowl combine the chopped vegetables with the pork.
- Place a dutch oven or deep saute pan on the stove over medium-high heat. Once the pot is hot add about 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Add the pork and vegetable mixture to the hot pan and sauté for 10 to 15 minutes until the pork is browned and the vegetables have released most of their moisture.
- Add the tomato paste, canned tomatoes, thyme and wine. Cook for 20 minutes.
- Using a ladle dip out 2 cups of the liquid from the pot and set aside for the sauce. Continue to cook the ragu until the remaining liquid has almost entirely cooked off, about another 20 minutes. Season well with salt and pepper and set aside to cool.
- Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Roll the larger disk of dough ints round large enough to fit a 9 inch pie pan. Fit the dough into the pan and fill with the pork ragu. Roll out the second piece of dough and place over the filling. Pinch the edges together all the way around and pole a hole in the top (decoratively or not, as you like) to allow steam to escape.
- Use a pastry brush to brush the entire crust with the beaten egg, Bake the pie until golden brown, about 40-50 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool at least 15 minutes before serving.
- While the pie bakes, melt 3 tablespoons butter over medium high heat. Whisk in the flour and cook over medium low heat, stirring almost constantly, for about 5 minutes. Whisk in the reserved cooking liquid and simmer for about 20 minutes, then ad the remaining tablespoon of butter, salt and pepper. Whisk to incorporate. Keep warm.
- Serve the pork pie warm with warm sauce.