Posted by michael | Posted in Finger Food | Posted on 31-01-2011
Judging by the title of this post, we could be making one of two things this week, a chicken or a pocket pie. Although I may share a chicken recipe with you in the near future, this post is about pie–specifically pocket pie! These little pies are not only delicious, but super portable as well which makes them perfect for picnics. The best part, however, is that you get a lot more flaky, rich crust than you would in a normal slice of pie. Speaking of crust, let’s start with that recipe. This is for 1 crust; some recipes require 2 crusts worth.
8 Tbsp refrigerated butter (1 sticks worth, cut into smaller chunks)
1 1/4 cups all purpose flour (preferably white)
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp sugar
3 Tbsp ice water (or more as needed)
Food processor (or mixing bowl+butter knives)
If you have a food processor, this can’t be simpler. You just pulse the dry ingredients, add the butter, pulse until combined, then add just enough water until it sticks. If you do not, it gets a bit trickier. The key to a successful, flaky, pie crust is temperature. It is imperative that you keep it cold. This means not touching the butter unless you have to. Thus you have the butter knives.
In lieu of the food processor’s cold, steel blade, you have your hands. The problem is that your hands give off heat. Thus you must work patiently but quickly at chopping the butter up with the butter knives. To do this, make a motion like you’re trying to do a drum roll while holding the knives. Once you get them into pea-sized or smaller chunks then you can add the water and roll it into a ball. The recipe is the same for both methods from here on out.
Take your ball of dough and wrap it as tightly as possible in your wrapping paper (preferably plastic wrap but foil will do in a pinch). This helps hold the dough together and makes it easier to work with. Put your wrapped ball in the fridge for at least a half hour to chill, preferably an hour or 2. When you pull it out, it should be firm and a little bit elastic. At this point, you can either roll it out or put it in the freezer for use at a later date. To defrost, leave in fridge overnight.
I highly recommend committing this recipe to memory. It will serve you well in many cooking endeavors. This is the basic recipe behind not only pie crust, but pastries in general.
So now we have the crust, what should we fill it with? In my self-inflated opinion, nothing beats good old fashioned apple pie and when it comes to apple pie, no apple is better than the good old fashioned Granny Smith. Many other recipes will ask you to track down these obscure apple strains that I’ve only seen at farmers’ markets in October but frankly, they’re not worth it. First of all, you’re baking them which completely changes the flavor. Secondly, you can buy Granny Smith apples anywhere, even 7 eleven! But that’s not the best reason to use them. I like them because they’re sour and hardy. They hold up well to baking, simple as that. I find that Fuji, McIntosh, and most other apples simply lack the acidity necessary to maintain their flavor in the oven. It’s as simple as that. Well that’s enough about apples, let’s talk pie! (Before you start, preheat the oven to 375˚F)
3 medium apples (2 large or 4 small)
2 Tbsp white sugar
2 Tbsp brown sugar
Pinch of nutmeg
1 tsp cinnammon
Pinch of salt
2 tsp lemon juice (optional if using granny smith apples)
This may seem like not a whole lot of filling but keep in mind that this isn’t a whole pie but rather 3 little pies, each requiring their own crust. Begin by peeling, coring, and dicing the apples. Put them in a mixing bowl and combine with other ingredients. Once done, get your crust out.
For most pies, you want a circular crust. In this case however, you can make whatever shape you want. For maximum efficiency, I recommend rectangles. If you would like a flakier crust (kind of like puff pastry), then proceed to follow my instructions. If not, then just flour a surface and roll it out into a rectangle about 6-8 inches wide and however long it needs to be.
Flour a surface and roll dough into rough circle/oval/squarish shape. Then fold the edges toward the center so they overlap a little. Roll it out again into a rough rectangle about 6-8 inches. Trim all the edges so it’s more rectangular (this also helps the crust puff). Keep the scraps for patching holes if necessary. Next, make a cut about every 6 inches so you end up with more or less 3 separate squares of crust. Spoon as much filling as you can onto half of each of the squares while still leaving enough space for the other half to fold over. Fold the squares in half and crimp the edges shut with a fork. The result should look something like a giant ravioli. Next, for decoration, sprinkle a bit of sugar on top of each one. Also cut 3 diagonal, parallel lines across the top for ventilation. Transfer your pies to a baking sheet and put in oven. Set a timer for 20 minutes and check on them when time is up. If the crust is golden and you see steam coming out of the slits, you’re done! All you need to do now is let them cool and wrap them up nice and pretty for your picnicking enjoyment.