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Pork & Apple Hand Pies with Cheddar-Sage Crust

These hand pies are a perfect portable lunch, marrying two ingredients that love each other: pork and apples. Both the dough for the crust and the filling can be made ahead and refrigerated, then the hand pies assembled before baking.
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Pork and Apple Hand Pies with Cheddar-Sage Crust. Photo by Amy Maltzan.

Recipe and photo by Amy Maltzan

These hand pies are a perfect portable lunch, marrying two ingredients that love each other: pork and apples. Both the dough for the crust and the filling can be made ahead and refrigerated, then the hand pies assembled before baking.

This recipe makes more filling than you have dough to fill, unless you make a double batch of dough. You can halve the filling recipe, but as long as you’re braising a pork shoulder, why not cook the full amount and freeze the extra for the future?

Filling
1.5 pounds pork shoulder or Boston butt, cut into 1-inch cubes
1 tablespoon firmly packed light brown sugar
1 teaspoon kosher salt
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
½ teaspoon ground ginger
¼ teaspoon ground cloves
¼ teaspoon ground allspice
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
3 medium to large apples, preferably of a crisp, slightly tart variety
1 shallot, minced
½ cup apple cider or hard cider 
Crust
2½ cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons fresh sage, minced
½ teaspoon salt
16 tablespoons (2 sticks) chilled unsalted butter, cut into small cubes
3 ounces sharp Cheddar cheese, finely grated
6 to 8 tablespoons ice water
1 egg blended with 1 tablespoon water

Preheat oven to 300º. Place pork cubes in large ovenproof pot, sprinkle brown sugar, salt, and spices over pork and stir to coat. Place pot in oven, covered, and cook for 3 hours, until pork is fork-tender.

Meanwhile, make crust: In medium bowl, whisk together flour, sage, and salt. Sprinkle butter cubes over flour mixture; use your fingers to work them in until mixture looks like cornmeal with some pea-sized bits of butter remaining. Stir in the cheese. Sprinkle 6 tablespoons ice water over mixture, stir with fork until dough begins to come together, adding additional tablespoon or two of water if needed. Turn dough out onto lightly floured surface, knead a few times, gather into a ball and divide into two portions. Flatten each portion into a disk, wrap in plastic wrap, and refrigerate at least 30 minutes.

When meat is cooked, use two forks to shred the cubes right in the pot. Meanwhile, heat butter in skillet over medium heat. Add apples and onions, shallot; cook for several minutes until softened, add shredded pork (along with any accumulated fat) and stir to combine. Add cider, bring to simmer, and cook 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper, and then remove from heat to cool completely (can be made ahead).

When ready to assemble pies, preheat oven to 350º. Roll out each disk of dough on a floured work surface into long rectangle about ¼ inch thick and 5 inches wide. Cut each rectangle into 5×5-inch squares. Spoon ¼ cup filling onto each square, then brush edges of squares with egg wash. Gently pull one side of square over the other to form rectangle. Press down on edges, then use tines of a fork to press and seal. Repeat with all squares.

Place all hand pies on parchment-lined baking sheet, brush tops of each pie with egg wash, then cut three slashes in top of each pie for venting. Bake 30-35 minutes, until golden brown. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Amy Maltzan is an avid cook, gardener and farmers’ market shopper. She blogs about seasonal home cooking at eggsonsunday.wordpress.com.

This recipe originally appeared in our Fall 2013 issue. For more of Amy’s recipes from this issue, check out her Beef and Stout Pie.

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