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Ma's Apple Pie with Bacon

I thought it was a good idea. I like apple and thyme sautéed with a pork chop. The pork with sweet from the apple and a savory herby note from the thyme spells yum. I thought it would translate beautifully into an apple pie. I cut the thyme from my herb garden and sautéed it with apple slices and butter before baking my new creation. It smelled great.

Unfortunately it took only one eager bite from the cooled pie to decide that thyme is a friend to pork and other savories but is not so delicious in a dessert. At least it was not so delicious in my apple pie.

I returned to my roots to bake a second, more palatable apple pie flavored with a dash of cinnamon and a pinch of coriander. I added a few bacon bits to my second pie because bacon makes everything better. I think my apple pie grandma would approve. I think she would have made a face at my thyme idea.

Apples are in my blood. I grew up in apple country in North Central Washington. At that time there were more orchards than houses and more fruit trees than children and dogs and combined. The aroma of fresh apples filled the air as the hot days of summer gave way to crisp days and chilly nights. Farmers were busy bringing their fruit to market while mothers and grandmothers filled vats with sweet apples to sauce and canned too many quarts of pie filling to count.

Forty years later my heart still flutters great nostalgia in the fall when I see bins of apples fill my local farmer's market. I want to try one of each and then make pies and cakes and apple butter and syrup and jelly... but for today I had to content myself with a not so great pie and a great pie.

The first thing you need to do when making an apple pie is select an appropriate variety for baking. Golden delicious and Jonagolds are my favorite, readily available apples for pie. Winesaps, however, are my all time favorite pie apple. They are a slightly tangy apple that holds its shape well when baked in a pie. They are not easy to come by so I usually reach for the Golden delicious or Jonagolds when pie making fever strikes. Some apples, such as Red Delicious, McIntosh, and Rome become mushy when baked. I suggest avoiding those varieties for baking.

You will notice that my apple pie recipe calls for only a hint of cinnamon and even less coriander. These two spices support apple flavor well when used sparingly but may quickly overpower the bright apple flavor when too much is added.

Ma's Apple Pie with Bacon

1 recipe double-crust pie pastry*

2½ pounds sweet baking apples (Golden Delicious or Jonagolds are good choices), peeled , cored, and sliced

2½ pounds tart baking apples, peeled , cored, and sliced

¼ cup granulated sugar

½ cup brown sugar

¼ teaspoon salt

¼ teaspoon cinnamon

⅛ teaspoon coriander

1 large egg white, lightly beaten

1 tablespoon sugar

On a lightly floured surface roll 1 disk of pie pastry into a 12 inch circle, fit it into a 9 inch deep dish pie pan, letting the excess pastry hang over the edge of the pan. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 30 minutes. Roll the second disk of pastry into a 12 inch circle; transfer to a parchment paper lined baking sheet, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 425°.

Toss the apple slices with the sugars, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg in a Dutch oven. Cover and cook over medium low heat, stirring frequently until the apples are just tender. Gently lift the apples onto a baking sheet to cool. Strain the cooled apples through a colander or large strainer, reserving ¼ cup juice.

Spoon the apples into the pastry lined pie pan. Drizzle the reserved juice over the apples and then cover with the second disk of pastry. Trim the edges to ½ inch, fold under, and crimp edges. Cut vent holes in the top. Brush the top with egg white and sprinkle sugar over the top.

Place the pie on a rimmed baking sheet (to catch any drips) and bake 25 minutes or until golden brown. Reduce oven temperature to 375° and bake 30-40 minutes longer or until deep golden brown. Cool the pie on a wire rack for 2 hours. Serve warm with ice cream!

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