Normandy is deeply farming country, with a host of renowned products – mostly dairy (oh, the butter, the butter!), almost all the meats (lots of pork around here, veal, Charolais beef and saltmarsh lamb), and of course the apples, and apple products (cider, Calvados). So today is one of those market-inspired recipes, having picked up a shoulder of free-range pork from one stall, I then hunted out some organic cider from a small family-owned business and some of their apples (which looked a bit ropey, as cider apples often do, but which will cook deliciously).
First job was to slow-cook that pork. I effectively poached/roasted it – it was swimming in all 750ml of that cider (I used ‘doux’, or sweet, using ‘brut’, or dry, it might be wise to add a couple of teaspoons of sugar), with a further 500ml of pork stock, one roughly chopped apple, one roughly chopped onion, a few cloves, a couple of whole cardamom pods and a big handful of thyme. Bring this up to the boil on the hob, before covering and transferring to a low oven (130 degrees) for about 4 hours.
Then another apple, another onion, and a stick of celery got finely chopped and sautéed in butter, before adding the stripped-down pork, and a cup or two full of the (blitzed) cider stock. I reduced this down just a little more, so that it wouldn’t soggy-fy my pastry.
Ah yes, the pastry – shortcrust, with lots of butter and an extra egg yolk or two, to make it nice and easy to handle. Blind-bake the bottom for 10 minutes to help it survive the moist mixture, and then add a pastry lid and bake for a further 25 minutes in a hot oven (220 degrees). I’m planning to have this hot for lunch today, but it works well as a cold picnic pie, though I suggest adding a little extra seasoning during the final bake if that’s your plan.