Watson made a easy apple pie difficult
‘Cognitive Cooking with Chef Watson‘ is a collaboration between IBM and the Institute of Culinary Schooling in New York Metropolis. As a part of an ongoing collection, we’ll be getting ready one recipe from the guide till we have made all of them. Want us luck.
When given the chance to organize a recipe from Cooking With Watson, I picked Baltic apple pie as a result of hey, it is apple pie. You combine up some filling, dump it right into a tin lined with dough, bake for forty minutes and voila, you’ve a scrumptious dessert which you could even put ice cream on. Oh, the Baltic apple pie has pork in it? OK, overlook the ice cream. However, a savory meat pie cannot be that onerous, proper?
That is the place I am imagined to say “improper,” however to be truthful, the Baltic apple pie is not actually that tough. However the recipe additionally consists of two sauces and a garnish, requiring a complete of 23 components and hours to make. It wasn’t even a whole meal. My colleague Terrence O’Brien has famous how Cooking With Watson is not actually meant for residence cooks, and with this undertaking, I discovered that the exhausting means.
The components got here from quite a lot of supermarkets, however it’s not mandatory to buy round so extensively; a lot of the elements for the Baltic apple pie and its accoutrements are widespread gadgets comparable to milk, eggs and garlic. It does require three totally different sugars in addition to two salts: nice sea and smoked. Smoked salt is likely one of the two exhausting-to-get components on the listing, together with agar. Agar can often be purchased at Asian grocers, however I went to Entire Meals solely as a result of there’s one near the Engadget workplace. I would not advocate that as a result of value: If you cannot discover them at your native market, purchase the components on-line as an alternative.
The one factor I had hassle finding wasn’t an ingredient, however a kitchen software: Tart rings. Any time I used to be in a retailer that provided family items I appeared for them to no avail. I might have gone to a kitchen provide retailer or ordered on-line, however finally determined to not given I had little use for them after this recipe.
I put aside a day to get this executed, considering that a savory pork and apple pie can be pretty at dinner. First merchandise on the listing was the “mayo,” written in quotes as a result of this mayo lacks oil, vinegar and lemon juice. As an alternative, it makes use of eggs, milk and cream with agar to set, and is flavored with allspice and vanilla bean. I’ve discovered that scraping out a vanilla bean isn’t enjoyable and a bit nervousness-inducing: Given that they are so costly, you need to ensure you use each final bit, and the method might be messy.
Every thing was positive from there till I popped the combination into the blender. It by no means thickened right into a gel. The flavour was right, a minimum of. I left the “mayo” to relax and went to work on the apricot and blueberry preserves. It additionally did not gel correctly, however nonetheless made a positive tart compote.
At this level I made a decision to deal with the apple pie itself. Step one was to cube and brine the pork, however did not specify which salt to make use of. I opted to make use of the high quality sea salt, sprinkling in only a handful of the smoked model for taste. I ready the remainder of the filling, throwing diced apples and onions together with chopped garlic right into a pan to sauté with butter. “That smells divine,” my roommate referred to as out from the opposite room. The directions then say to sprinkle brown sugar and salt on the filling… however once more did not specify which salt. I used the smoked one.
Subsequent up was the puff pastry sheets. The recipe needed me to chop them into 6- and four-inch circles. Nevertheless, once I unfolded the puff pastry sheet it shortly turned obvious it wasn’t sufficient for 4 full-measurement tarts. I checked to see if I had screwed up: The recipe says one to 2 kilos of puff pastry dough, which could possibly be one or two bins, and I had solely bought one field with roughly one pound.
Undeterred, I opted to chop the circles smaller. Keep in mind how I did not purchase tart rings? I made a decision to make use of my muffin tin as an alternative, and my lowered circles match inside every slot completely. I put a spoonful of filling into every cup, used the remaining dough to cowl every nascent pie, and popped it within the oven to bake.
Whereas I waited I labored on the garlic chips. The recipe referred to as for sliced garlic to be blanched 3 times in milk. The method of blanching can take away intense or harsh flavors, however boiling a shallow pan of milk 3 times felt like such a waste of dairy it depressed me, particularly for one thing as minor as a garnish.
I took the pies out of the oven they usually truly seemed appetizing. Sadly, they by no means correctly browned up, even after I put them again within the oven sans pan.
I assembled a full plate with all of the elements and all of it seemed fairly good. I minimize one open with a fork to find the dough by no means acquired mild and flaky due to how I cooked it. It was extra like a pot pie, which was superb with me. The dough was moist and chewy and had absorbed taste properly. The pork was good and juicy too, because of the brining.
Sadly, the pork was additionally actually salty. Even after draining out the brine sufficient remained within the meat to throw off the flavour and overwhelm the style of the Granny Smith apples. That is the place the 2 sauces actually shined right here, with the mayo nullifying the salt whereas the extreme taste of the compote matched the brightness of the salt and accentuated the pork nicely. In that second the additional work made sense.
I had loads of filling left over, so there was room to attempt once more. And, since my editor Dana Wollman requested me to convey her one of many completed pies, I felt obligated to make extra. However, as it isn’t a good suggestion to be overly salty together with your boss, I wanted to repair the brine drawback first.
That was straightforward; I simply sauteed extra apple and onion and mixed them with the prevailing pork combine. That went a great distance towards dispersing the brine, and I even felt assured sufficient so as to add extra smoked salt.
I additionally wanted extra puff pastry dough, however wasn’t thrilled on the considered having to chop extra discs and stuff them within the muffin tin once more. So I used to be completely delighted to discover a field of Pepperidge Farm puff pastry cups on the grocery store. They’re principally small hexagons of dough with a circle minimize within the center. After baking them ’til they’re good and fluffy you punch out the circle after which you could have a small bowl for creating hors d’oeuvres.
To make a totally coated pastry I improvised, utilizing a second disc of raw dough as a lid and gluing it on with some egg wash. After 20 to half-hour, I had a tray of 12 puffy, flaky pork apple pies. The underside half was a bit browner than the highest, nevertheless it did not matter: The insides have been chewy and candy, and the meat was cooked completely. They went over nicely on the workplace.
I nonetheless have loads of filling left, and even when I did not, the Baltic apple pie is one thing I in all probability would make once more. However sooner or later, I might skip the mayo and compote and simply be extra cautious with my brining. I would not hassle with the garlic chips both: The parsley, chives and apple have been high quality garnishes in their very own proper. There isn’t any cause to spend a lot time spent gussying up a pie that may be wonderful even by itself.