Pie filling recipes & thoughts on pie

Last week (year!), I made apple pie filling so I could bring a dozen mini apple pies to D&D for dessert.

I’ve made a couple of apple pies before, but never pie filling which could then be bottled up and stored for a later date to be used make a practically instant pie. In fact, I’ve never even purchased pre-made apple pie filling before because that always seemed like a really strange concept to me — why would you use canned apples when real apples are rather common place in most everybody’s kitchen?

The only pre-made canned stuff I’ve had the experience of eating before is cherry, and that was only ever used to top my mom’s apple cheesecakes. OH wait, no, I think I tried blueberry pie filling when I was going through that experimental and short-lived flavrcake (aka dump cake) phase. I have discovered that canned pie filling, with the exception of cherry, is really weird tasting to me. The gloppiness and overly sugared fillings just don’t do it for me, so I think I may be seriously spoiled in the pie department when pies are actually in my presence.

Researching apple pie fillings, I discovered that they have quite a bit of sugar in them, at least to me, there seems to be a rather large quantity of sugar in each recipe I’ve looked at. I don’t know if this is because people naturally like their pies excessively sugar-laden and it’s the norm, or I am just hyper-sensitive to the taste of sugar in general.

Anywho, after spending a good couple of hours trying to find something that sounded appealing to put inside my mini pies, I finally settled on a recipe I found on BigOven. I looked at all the submissions to allrecipes.com and for some reason they were all the same recipe — every single one of them, the only difference was the title. One fairly good example of what I was looking at was this recipe called Apple Pie in a Jar. Four and a half cups of sugar!? REALLY?? O_O;;; Wowsers.

Needless to say, these recipes really made me uncomfortable and so I kept on diligently searching for something that sounded a little less sugar-laden. Maybe I should take into consideration that the 4 1/2 cups of sugar is for 7 quarts of apples. But still… compared to the amount of sugar I ended up using for ~5 quarts of apples I chopped, there’s a pretty big difference.

Anyhow, I finally found something that was a little more to my liking and used that as my guide — I tweaked the recipe somewhat since I used more apples than the recipe called for because I had quite a few sad looking apples that had started becoming wrinkled and quite a few large ones in the fridge that Mom had bought me that really needed a purpose to fulfill their wonderful apple-y lives. Since I used quite a few apples and it filled my 5 quart dutch oven by the time I was done chopping, I was going by eye & feel more than anything else with regards to how much flour & sugar to add. The original recipe for Apple Pie Filling can be found here.

The resulting pie filling, once I figured out what extra spices to add, was really satisfying — not too sweet, a smidgen bit of tartness and the perfect amount of extra spices. I realize that apple pies are probably pretty easy to make by most peoples’ standards, but pie-making is a relatively new undertaking for me and I am pretty darned pleased by the results I’ve had so far.

The other pies I’ve made this week are also quite impressive: Japanese Bison Curry and Pear Mincemeat.

The pear mincemeat was from Miss R and it was really, really yummy. If I remember correctly, I think she found the recipe out of the Company’s Coming Preserves book. I mentioned a couple days ago that the recipe for the pastry that I used for the mincemeat pies was a little excessive and seemed to be kind of overkill in the amount of butter it uses and probably wouldn’t be my first choice for a savoury pie recipe. Turns out I was wrong and it makes for a fabulous base for savoury pies, too! Yea, it’s still crazy in terms of the amount of butter it calls for, but in the end, it’s a really nice crust that is easy to make, doesn’t cause any angst when making it, and tastes great. Yay for butter.

The curry filling I made was easy, easy, easy: Japanese curry roux FTW. I don’t think I need to say much more than that. I used 2lbs(?) of thawed bison stew meat that I seared in batches, fried off an onion, three sticks of celery and two carrots, all peeled, roughly chopped and then covered everything with water and a splash of red wine vinegar after I dissolved a package of the Japanese curry mix. I let it simmer away for a good four hours and then let it cool down and tossed it into the fridge until Friday morning when I made the pies for my weekly get together with Miss R & Lil’ E=MC^2. The awesome thing was that we managed to have everyone join us for the first time and it was nice seeing everyone before the end of the year.

Apple Pie Filling

6 medium apples, ~2lbs (I used 4 LARGE + 3 medium)
1/3 cup Sugar
2/3 cup Brown sugar
4 Tbsp Flour
3 Tbsp Lemon juice
1 tsp Cinnamon
1/2 tsp Nutmeg
1/2 tsp Allspice
1 cup water

Peel, core and chop apples.
In a large dutch oven, toss apples with remaining ingredients except water and let stand for 30 minutes.
Add water and cook gently over medium heat until mixture begins to thicken and apples soften a little.
Cool filling and pour into 1/2-gallon size freezer bags.
Seal, label and freeze.
Use 1/3 cup of filling per mini pie.

Japanese Curry Meatpie Filling

2lbs bison stew meat
olive oil
1 onion, peeled & chopped
3 stalks celery, chopped
2 carrots, peeled & chopped
generous splash of red wine vinegar
1 box Japanese curry roux
salt, pepper

In a large dutch oven, heat olive oil to sear bison pieces over medium heat, in batches, until pieces are nicely browned on all sides.
Set browned pieces aside and continue with the rest of the meat, adding extra olive oil as needed.
Once all the meat has been seared, set aside.
To the pot, add the onion, celery and carrots, season generously with salt and pepper and scrape off all the yummy bits as the veggies cook.
Once pot looks nicely cleaned and veggies are softened, add the meat and all the resting juices back into the pot and mix thoroughly.
Turn temperature up to medium-high, add enough water to the pot just cover the meat and add a generous splash of red wine vinegar.
Break up the curry roux blocks and stir into the stew to dissolve.
Once the stew comes up to a boil, turn down temperature to a gentle simmer, cover and let cook until the meat is tender, about 4+ hours.
Take pot off the heat and let stew cool completely before using as pie filling, preferably overnight.
In the meantime, get yourself a bowl of rice, top with however much curry you’d like and dig in — make the pies tomorrow!
Use 1/3 cup of filling per mini pie.

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