French-style Cordon Bleu Double Pork Pie
Week Nine: Tarte Deux Porcs
This is what happens when you leave my sister and me with a pie dough and no plan for what to put in it. I know I’ve mentioned that she’s adverse to dessert, but did I say she likes meat? She likes meat a lot. Lesser carnivores, like oh say lions, have nothing on her.
So our conversation goes something like this:
ME: I’ve already done an Italian pie, I want to do something different. Mexican… American… French? Maybe French. Oooh, like a Cordon Bleu!
RACHEL: You know that Cordon Bleu was probably created in America.
ME: Doesn’t matter. Sounds French. Ok, so it’d be chicken, ham, cheese…
RACHEL: You think too much about this you know.
ME: It’s the Summer of Pie! Get onboard! I want to use a triple creme cheese.
RACHEL: No chicken.
ME: Not chicken, CHEESE.
RACHEL: No chicken, just ham. No, there should be two porks — pancetta.
ME: That’s Italian.
RACHEL: Bacon then.
It’s possible we were having two entirely different conversations, regardless, we ended up with a pie. It’s only faux French, but it is delicious. And insanely rich. AND I got to use my French triple creme cheese (think Brie as a starting point, but then get Délice de Bourgogne).
I should add that I’ve long been intrigued by the vodka pie crust. I know, it sounds nuts. But water, the binder in a basic dough, creates gluten, the sworn enemy of flakiness. The more water you use, the more gluten, the more heavy and chewy the final result. Since vodka is 40% alcohol (as in, not water) and imparts no taste (and the alcohol cooks off), it’s supposed to work great as a swap for some of the water. I can now say it does. The crust turned out wonderfully flaky and buttery, which was especially impressive given that I only use one shortening instead of the recommended two.
This would be a great pie for a cold winter’s night, or anytime you have your cardiologist over for the weekend. If you think it’s overkill, you can leave out the one of the meats, but I wouldn’t tell my sister…
TARTE DEUX PORCS
Butter Pastry Crust
(adapted from Cook’s Illustrated’s “Foolproof Pie Dough”)
2 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour (12 1/2 ounces)
1 tsp salt
16 tbsp cold unsalted butter (2 sticks), cut into 1/4-inch slices
1/4 cup vodka, cold
1/4 cup ice water
Mix flour and salt in food processor fitted with steel blade. Scatter butter over dry ingredients and pulse until mixture resembles coarse cornmeal, 10 to 15 seconds. Turn mixture into medium bowl.
Sprinkle vodka and water over mixture. With rubber spatula, use folding motion to mix, pressing down on dough until dough is slightly tacky and sticks together. Shape 2/3 of the dough into flattened round; repeat with remaining 1/3. Wrap tightly in plastic. Refrigerate at least 1 hour or overnight. Dough can be kept in the refrigerator for 2 days or in the freezer for up to a month (if freezing, wrap in additional layer of foil or place plastic wrapped rounds into a heavy duty freezer bag).
3 tbsp butter
1/3 cup flour
2 1/2 cups whole milk
3/4 cup Boursin cheese (we had both Garlic & Herbs, and Shallot & Chives lying around — just don’t use the light, I mean, c’mon, look what you’re making here, light cheese will not help you)
3 oz Swiss cheese, shredded
3 oz Havarti cheese, shredded
In a medium saucepan at medium heat, melt butter, being careful not to let it brown. When butter has completely melted, add flour; stir until it forms a thick paste and cook 5 minutes. Adjust heat lower if it begins to brown or burn. In a separate saucepan, heat milk until steaming. Add steaming milk to the flour paste in 1/4 cup additions, stirring well between additions. At first the paste will get firmer and lumpier and not seem very saucelike at all, don’t panic, this will change as you continue to add milk. After about half the milk is added you can increase to 1/2 cup additions. Congratulations, you now have a basic béchamel. You are a french chef.
Add cheeses, mixing well between additions of cheese. Let sauce cook on low heat for about 20 minutes, then remove from heat and set aside for assembly.
Breaded Pork Tenderloin
1 lb pork tenderloin
1/2 cup flour
2 tbsp black pepper
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp white pepper
Trim excess fat from tenderloin and cut into 1/3″ slices. Mix flour, peppers, garlic powder, and paprika together in a shallow bowl. Dredge each side of the tenderloin slices in the flour mixture, gently shaking off excess flour. Heat large skillet lightly coated with oil on medium/high heat. Pan fry the tenderloin for about 3 minutes each side, middle should be pink, not raw. Place cooked pork on a plate and set aside for assembly.
1 lb (uncooked) bacon (preferably a thick cut applewood smoked bacon)
Fry bacon until slightly overdone and crispy. Place cooked bacon on a paper towel lined plate and set aside for assembly.
Wilted Greens and Caramelized Onions
1 medium white onion, french cut
3-4 large cloves of garlic, finely minced
1 lb of either spinach or Swiss Chard
Set a large skillet pan lightly coated with oil on medium/high heat. When pan is hot, add onions. Cook, stirring frequently until onions begin to brown and turn translucent. Add garlic, and continue cooking, stirring frequently, until onions are a light/medium brown. Be careful not to burn the onions, they should turn brown but not black. If they begin to burn or smoke, adjust temperature lower. When onions are browned, add spinach or chard*. Cook, stirring, only until greens have wilted but not lost their bright color. Remove from heat and set aside for assembly.
*Chard should be blanched before cooking to remove bitterness. Fill a large pot with water and bring to a boil. While water is boiling, prepare a large bowl filled with ice water. Place chard in boiling water for 2 minutes. Remove chard from boiling water plunge immediately into ice bath for 1 minute. Drain.
Pie dough disks
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese, shredded or grated
6 oz French triple creme cheese
All ingredients prepared so far
1 9” quiche or spring form pan, preferably at least 2-3” deep
Preheat oven to 350°.
Cut pork tenderloins in to 1/2″x1″ strips. Cut bacon into small, bite-sized pieces. Set both aside.
On a lightly floured surface, roll out the larger portion of dough into a 15” circle. Carefully place in ungreased pan (I find it easiest to “roll up” the dough around the pin and then unroll it over the pan); ease the dough carefully down the sides and bottom of the pan pressing it lightly into the bottom edge. Trim dough (with kitchen scissors) to leave only 1/2″ overhang.
Evenly spread Parmesan cheese over the bottom of the crust, followed by all of the pork pieces. Cut the triple creme cheese into 1/4″ thick slices and layer evenly over pork. Next spread the bacon pieces over the cheese and then add the wilted greens and onions. Finally, top with as much of the cheese béchamel as will fit. If sauce is too thick to spread, heat on medium until it loosens up. Set pie aside while you roll out the top crust.
Roll out remaining dough to 9” circle. Place over filling to cover, trimming to fit just inside the pan edges if necessary. Ok, you have to work quickly here as the warm béchamel with start to leach through and dissolve the top crust. Roll the bottom crust edges over the top crust, tucking it into itself in a neat circle (think nicely upholstered chair). Beat egg with 1 tbsp of water and brush gently over top crust (if the crust integrity is too compromised by the bechamel, you can skip this step).
Place pan on a jelly roll sheet in the oven for about 1 hour or until top crust has turned golden brown. Remove from oven and cool (in pan) on rack for 30-45 minutes, until pan is not too hot to touch. Remove pie from pan, slice and serve.