Sausage, leek, and apple pie
4 large or 6 smaller leeksBrown your sausage, chunking it into bits as it cooks, or slicing it up afterward if you’re using breakfast links.
2 large or 3 small tart Granny Smith apples
1 modest celery-root
a dab of chanterelle mushroom, if feasible
a pound or more of breakfast sausage or sweet Italian sausage
a generous pinch of saffron
several tbsp. of fine-gauge tapioca
a splash of dry sherry
butter, flour, salt, coarse pepper
pastry for a two-crust pie
While the sausage is browning, wash your leeks well, cut them lengthwise, and slice them into segments a third to a half inch long. Pare your celery-root and slice it finely. Wash and chop up your hoped-for bit of chanterelle. Put all three into a pot with just enough lightly-salted boiling water to barely cover them, and cook just a minute or two past the point where they wilt. Dump them into a colander, taking care to save the vegetable broth you strain off.
Peel and core your apples, then slice them into nice uniform slices about a quarter-inch thick. Meanwhile, when a fair amount of the vegetable broth has drained off, remove it to a small saucepan, crumble in a generous first-joint-of-your-thumb pinch of saffron, and leave it to steep over a low fire. As further broth drains off the vegetables, add it to the pot.
(Requisite maddeningly imprecise direction: If it looks like you have enough broth to fill a piepan, turn the fire up so it’ll reduce.) (Also: this is a good moment to start your oven at 425 F.)
Lay your bottom crust in the piepan. Scatter a couple of teaspoons of dry tapioca into the bottom of the pie. When it’s convenient, add two or three generous tablespoons of dry tapioca to the cooked vegetable mixture and stir it in gently. This is a good moment to correct the salting of the vegetables, if you need to do that.
Melt 3 tbsp. butter in a pan, sprinkle in 3 tbsp. of flour, and make a roux. If you’re getting a lot of broth and you have a big piepan, you can take it up to 4 and 4. When the roux is roux’d, whisk in the broth, yadda yadda, salt and coarse pepper, splash of sherry, yadda. Should be middling thick. Take the sauce off the fire and stir in the vegetables. If you have a cold spot on the floor underneath a loose-framed window, set it there—the crust will fare better if the filling isn’t too hot.
Dredge your apple slices lightly in flour and arrange them in compact overlapping circles in the bottom of the pie shell. One clinker-built layer is enough unless your piepan is deep; if not, and you have more than that, leave them out.* Top the apples with a well-packed layer of half of the leek mixture, or half as much as you’ll be using if you’ve made a lot. Lay on the sausage, pressing it in a bit. Top with the rest of the leek mixture. Mounding is good. Put on your top crust, crimp it well, cut a vent in the center, and put the pie in the oven.
Bake at 425 F. for fifteen minutes, then turn the oven down to 350 F. and continue baking until the edges of the crust haven’t burned yet. Avoid bending or torque when you take it out. Let it cool and set up a while, unless you’re too hungry to care about the filling being loose. Goes well with a chunk of sharp cheese and some chilled white wine.