Pie #1 - Lemon Cream Icebox Pie
Pie #2 - Malted Crisp Tart
Pie #7 - Chocolate Kahlua Pie
Pie #8 - Bacon and Egg Pizza
There are some impossible pies for me. Pies that develop their own myth in my mind, of greatness and potential and memory.
And with all great pies, and myths, a quest must be undertaken. To slay the dragon. And in this case, the quest was for a three-day pie. And duck fat. Two pounds of duck fat.
Duck fat isn’t easy to find. I visited three grocery stores in the area that pride themselves on stocking the best products possible. No duck fat. I called two more. No duck fat.
I called four butchers in NJ and NYC. No duck fat. I went to the giant Whole Foods in Columbus Circle. No duck fat.
Finally, I called Wegman’s. Spoke with their meat department. The really great guy on the other end of the line said they special order their duck fat from D’Artagnan. “Maybe you could call them. They’re in Newark.”
Wait, a minute, there’s a warehouse of duck fat fifteen minutes from our house? Why had no one told me of this magical land?
I placed my order for a whole lot of duck fat. They told me I could pick it up later that day (more some other time on how wonderful the people of D’Artagnan are and the tour I got of the facility).
And then I was swimming in duck fat.
Now on to the three-day pie...
Ever since we picked up the book Pork & Sons by Stéphane Reynaud, we’ve been smitten. The book chronicles butchering hogs in France. I grew up in Indiana (which one might describe as a long way from France), sometimes slaughtering animals, and a hog was butchered nearly every year. And I’ve always had my eye on Reynaud’s Pork Confit Pie. It seemed rustic and extravagant all at the same time, pork preserved in fat, topped with potatoes in creamy fat, encrusted in puff pastry which is essentially flour and butter. Fat upon fat upon fat. I've stared at that pie recipe in the book over the last few years, wondering what it must taste like.
It takes three days, this pie. One for the making the pork confit. Another day to let the confit mellow. And another day to bake it. You can make the pork confit and let it mellow for days. Or weeks even. Then make the pie when you’re ready.
Here’s how it tastes....like deep, deep love. And care and craft and savory+sweet perfection. This pie heals parts of you that you didn’t know were hurting. It is shocking and mellow and makes you raise your hands in the air in victory with the very first bite.
Some quests are worth it. This three-day pie is worth it. Duck fat and all.
Make this for family. Or the friends who are closest to you. This pie is too special to share with just anybody.
recipe | Pork Confit Pie with Creme Fraiche Potatoes and Puff Pastry (via Pork & Sons Cookbook)
- 1¼ pounds of boneless fatty pork shoulder
- 1¼ pounds of pork belly
- 1¼ cups of sugar
- a pinch of salt
- 1 teaspoon smoked paprika (you can use regular if you prefer)
- 1 teaspoon dried thyme
- 1 bay leaf, crumbled
- 2 pounds duck fat (we used D’Artagnan brand)
- 1½ pounds of pork lard
- 2-4 jars for storage
Place them into an 8x8 inch baking dish (or whatever you need to closely nestle the meat together without overcrowding).
Mix together the sugar, salt, paprika, thyme, and bay leaf crumbles.
Sprinkle over the meat. Cover the meat with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 24 hours.
Uncover the meat and wipe each piece with a damp paper towel. Get most, but not all, of the sugar and spice off.
Melt the duck fat and pork lard in a large pan over low heat. You have to keep this at a low heat, so don’t be tempted to raise the heat initially to turn it down later. Keep it low and don’t touch it. Sorry, that was very bossy.
Once the fats are melted, add the eight pieces of meat and cook gently for 2 hours. You know the meat is done when you can insert a smooth knife blade with nearly no resistance.
Place a bit of liquid fat into the bottom of each jar. Place two pieces of meat (one of belly, one of shoulder) into each of the jars. Use the remaining fat to cover the meat completely.
We stored ours in the refrigerator, where they will keep for weeks if not months. We let ours sit for 24 hours to fully rest and prepare for their next stage of awesome.
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 medium onions, sliced ¼ inch thick
- 3 garlic cloves, peeled and sliced thinly
- 1 pound 2 ounces (or so) of pork confit, coarsely chopped
- 3-4 tablespoons basil, chopped finely
- 2 tablespoons thyme, chopped finely
- 2-3 tablespoons of chives, chopped finely
- 5-6 large potatoes (use any kind you want, we used Russet) peeled and sliced ¼ inch thick
- 1 cup crème fraiche (you could substitute full fat sour cream, but don’t)
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1 pound puff pastry, thawed
- A little flour for rolling out the puff pastry
- 1 egg yolk, beaten lightly
- Salt and pepper