Apple Pie has me thinking of Hallin’s spheres, and how there’s no need to tell “both sides” of a story about which there is consensus, like “Apple pie is good” and no need to give air time to deviant viewpoints like “counting all the votes is bad.”
Boy, those spheres sure have shifted in the last 13 years.
1 and ¼ cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons sugar
¼ teaspoon salt
1 stick cold unsalted butter, cut into pieces
¼ cup ice water
For the filling –
1.5 to 2 cups pecans – I used the heavier amount, but next time I’d go for the lower one
3 large eggs
¾ cup dark brown sugar
2/3 cup light corn syrup
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
3 tablespoons (1.5 ounces) rendered bacon fat
2 ounces bourbon (I used bacon-infused bourbon, which is optional but which I’ll explain later)
½ teaspoon salt
½ to ¾ cup semisweet chocolate chips
To make the crust: In a food processor, pulse the flour with sugar and salt. Gradually add the butter and pulse until the mixture resembles coarse meal. Transfer to a bowl and slowly stir in the ice water. Knead a few times on a lightly floured surface until it reaches a nice doughy consistency and pat into a disk. Wrap in plastic and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.
After that, roll out the dough into a 12-inch round. Carefully transfer into a 9-inch glass pie plate, trim the overhang to ½ inch and crimp decoratively. Refrigerate until firm (maybe an hour).
To make the filling: First, toast the pecans on a rimmed baking sheet for about 8 minutes or until fragrant, then chop them coarsely. Then, render the bacon fat – cook about 6-8 strips of bacon on medium heat until enough fat has liquefied to meet the recipe (1.5 ounces). While the bacon is frying, whisk the three eggs in a large bowl with the brown sugar, corn syrup, vanilla, bourbon and salt until blended. Stir in the rendered bacon fat, followed by the pecans and chocolate chips until evenly distributed.
Pour the filling into the pie shell. Bake on the bottom shelf of the oven for about 55 minutes, or until the center of the pie is set. Tent with foil halfway through if the edge is browning too quickly. Let the pie cool for at least 1 hour before serving.
To make the optional bacon-infused bourbon: transfer 1 750-ml bottle of midgrade bourbon (Buffalo Trace or Four Roses work quite well) into a medium-large mixing bowl. Add another one to two ounces of rendered bacon fat and whisk it in as best you can (the bacon fat will want to separate immediately). Pour the infused bourbon into a non-porous container and let sit for at least 4-6 hours at room temperature, shaking occasionally. Then, place the mixture in the freezer until all the fat is solidified. With a slotted spoon, remove the hardened fat and strain the now-infused bourbon back into the bottle.