Last week I went prickly pear hunting with my good friends Andrea and Aaron. This involved intense heat, lots of driving, and careful handling of ingredients, and lots of tiny needles. After picking these thorny fruits, we juiced them and they produced a bright pink fragrant juice which tastes like a sweet tart lemonade. Afterwards, we were having a food conversation over our drinks and Hatch chilli’s which are in season became the topic,no matter what we always end up talking about food is inevitable…I love it!. As ingredients go Hatch peppers its one of the gems of the chili world, having a mild heat and great flavor. Andrea’s Hatch mode was contagious. After tossing around some favorite Hatch combinations, I began considering Apple Pie with Hatch peppers. Apple pie is normally reserved for the fall but I am married to a man who can eat it regardless of season. I thought this would be the right time to bake a test batch (which ran on Instagram, which you knew because all of you MUST follow YMP on Instagram) and they turned out splendidly, or at least the eaters of the samples left not a crumb,apple, or chili behind.
I twisted my classic crostata crust recipe which you can find the step by step in this post (Ian this phrase is just for me!..need to plug the link!) and I added cheddar cheese! Yes you heard well, sharp cheddar cheese. It came to me like a dream. The cheddar adds the savory a bit salty note to the crust, and it makes it airy and flaky. I also tried a new technique when kneading the pie crust, I learned by watching one of the episodes “ The Mind of a Chef ” with Sean Brock and southern baker Lisa Donovan who were making her amazing buttermilk pies. What I learned about her Pate brise type of dough, (which is my favorite kind for pie), is the following: she “flaked the butter” when she was making her dough, instead of leaving those famous “pea size butter chunks”. She squeezes them between her thumb and index finger to create what she called “butter flakes” Genius!!!! So I tried her technique and I added grated cheddar to create more flaking. The result is this utterly buttery and flaky crust, you can see the pictures which do not lie! Omg what a great technique and awesome combination between the fat of the butter and the cheese if I do say so myself.
But where is the hatch? After I chard them, they were hanging out with the apples in a combination of raw sugar, Gause Jaupon honey, Mexican cinnamon, and nutmeg. That’s what the crust had to stand up to! You can only imagine the amazing outcome after all these ingredients colliding in the same universe. Amazing pie. Go for it. Don’t be shy. If you want to comment on your experience with it please e-mail me. If you love the recipe shout it on the streets! …Enjoy!
Hatch Apple Pie
A tongue twister by name and by taste!
Makes 2- 5” baby pies
For the pie filling:
2 green apples
2 red Apples
2-3 hatch chiles charred, skinned , de-seeded and chopped. (I used hot!)
¼ cup honey
½ cup turbinado sugar
1 teaspoon mexican cinnamon grated
¼ teaspoon nutmeg
2 tablespoons of butter
1 teaspoon corn starch
½ teaspoon apple cider vinegar
1 good pinch of salt
For the cheddar cheese crust:
1+1/4 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
1 stick = 4 oz. of european style butter cut into small cubes.
4 oz. sharp cheddar cheese grated
1 pinch of kosher salt
3-4 tablespoons of iced water.
Extra flour for dusting and rolling the dough.
1 egg for egg-wash the pie tops
a little extra turbinado sugar to sprinkle on crust.
1. Start by making the crust. In a large bowl combine flour and salt. Then add the chilled butter cubes, and the grated cheddar cheese. With you hands start rubbing the flour and butter between your fingers and creating “the flakes” see picture bellow) you want to be gentle and as fast as possible.
2. Once your dough looks flaky and coarse, add the iced water and quickly combine by incorporating the flour with the least kneading possible. (see picture below)
3. The dough will look almost like is not together. Gently press into a flat ball and divide into fours. (you will need two tops, and two bottoms)
4. Wrap each portion in plastic wrap and quickly shape into 4 small disks. Chill them for at least 15-20 minutes in the freezer.
5. Meantime, prepare the apple filling. Peel and thinly slice the apples. In a medium bowl toss the sliced apples, diced roasted hatch peppers, honey, sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, cornstarch, salt apple cider vinegar. Mix well. Use your hands to well combine every ingredient. Set aside.
6. Time to roll up your dough!.. this is fun! Using 2 small 5” baking pie dishes. Roll each dough piece into a 7- 8” rounds. Rub some butter into the dishes, and then place the bottom disc shaping the dough into the dish with your hands.
7. Fill each pie with half of the apple filling. Arrange the apple pieces in flat layers. You don’t want to be to fussy about it, just pay attention at not leaving apple gaps specially on the bottom layer ; )
8. Now your pies look like mountains of apples, that’s great! Roll the other two pastry disks into 7”-8” and cover your pies.
9. Crimp the edges of the pie with the help of a fork, make four 1” slits on top of the pie. Beat one egg and 1 teaspoon of water and with a pastry brush, brush the tops of the pies with this egg wash mixture. Sprinkle turbinado sugar on top, and edges of the pie.
10. Line up a baking sheet with a lip with aluminum foil. Place the two pies in the tray. Place the tray in the freezer for about 20 minutes.
11. Place the rack oven into the bottom third of the oven. Preheat your oven at 400F.
12. After 20 minutes, remove the pies from freezer and place them directly into the oven.
13. Bake at 400F for the first 20 minutes. Rotate the pies and lower the temperature to 350F. Bake for another 20-25 minutes.
14. By now your house smell like heaven! Place the pies into a cooling rack let them cool for about 30 minutes. Serve with a scoop of your favorite vanilla ice cream and a dash of ground cinnamon. Enjoy!