Each year, as the leaves on the trees begin their slow change from brightly hued greens to burnt oranges and yellows, my cooking habits change with them. I go from relying heavily on the outdoor smoker and grill to becoming a slave to my trusty dutch ovens and a champion of butter-packed pastries.
Aromas of braised meats, slowly simmered soups, and buttery pie crusts—the holy trinity of autumnal fare—waft through my home from the moment the first cool front rolls through and I tearfully bid my freshly grown garden tomatoes adieu. More often than not, I keep the aforementioned dishes separate. Preparing cabernet-braised short ribs one night, a Thai coconut soup the next, and, on afternoons when I’m feeling particularly cozy, I’ll bake a fresh apple pie for dessert as a treat.
This past week, however, I felt inspired to combine all of my favorite fall flavors and techniques into one dish—a cider-braised pork, parsnip, and shiitake galette.
The contents of this galette were actually inspired by a friend of mine, Jake, who also happens to be the famed meat pie man of Portland’s largest farmer’s market. Jake has an award-winning pie that he calls “This Little Piggy,” made of cider-braised pork and parsnip, which is literally melt-in-your mouth delicious. In fact, I have been known to trudge through the pouring rain on farmer’s market Saturdays, pulling the hood of my rain coat snug around my face to keep the rain at bay, just to procure one of his pies. (And, in case you didn’t know, it rains a lot here in Portland. Especially on Saturdays, it seems.)
His pies are the quintessential comfort food that I long for on a gloomy day. There’s just something about them that make me want to curl up fireside with a glass of wine and a good book, after I’ve fought the masses at the market, of course.
I’ve had this particular pie of his, my personal favorite, on several occasions and finally decided to try to recreate it in galette form, doing my best to imitate his unique balance of sweet and savory home-style flavors. What resulted was a rich, velvety filling made of cider-braised pork shoulder, parsnips, shitake mushrooms, onions, and celery. A filling that could easily be served alongside rice or on top of fresh egg pasta. Instead, I’ve encased the whole mess of it in a sweet, golden crust that flakes off into crumbs when broken, like a crispy loaf of french bread.
So, you see, the summer might have come to an end. My tomato plants might now resemble more of a sloppy, slumping green mess than the vibrant fruit-bearing plants they once were. But if we’re looking on the bright side of things, which I think we should, at least there is no shortage of braised meats and galettes (and pies!) in my future.
I wish the same for your future too.
Cider-Braised Pork, Parsnip, and Shiitake Galettes
Serves: 8-16 (8 whole galette servings, 16 if you’re halving them)
Braised Pork Ingredients
- 3-4 pounds of pork shoulder
- 1.5 teaspoons of salt
- 1 teaspoon of freshly ground pepper
- 2 tablespoons of butter, divided
- 2 tablespoons of olive oil, divided
- 4 cloves of garlic, sliced
- 1.5 pounds of parsnips, sliced into bite-sized chunks
- 10 medium-sized shiitake mushrooms, sliced
- 1 large yellow onion, diced roughly
- 2 celery stalks, chopped finely
- 1 tablespoon of flour
- 1.5 cups of hard cider (I used a local favorite, Reverend Nat’s)
- 2 cups of beef stock
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 teaspoon of dried thyme
Braised Pork Method:
Heat a large dutch oven over medium heat. Add 1 tablespoon of butter and 1 tablespoon of olive oil to the dutch oven.
While dutch oven is heating, pat pork shoulder dry on all sides and season with salt and pepper. Add it to the dutch oven and brown on all sides. Work in batches and be careful not to overcrowd the meat. Once browned nicely on all sides, remove the pork and set aside on a plate.
Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.
Add garlic, parsnips, mushrooms, onion, and celery to the dutch oven. (You will likely have to work in batches as you don’t want to steam the veggies by putting too many in at once.) Cook over medium heat until parsnips are turning golden brown on the sides and the other veggies have begun to wilt, about 10 minutes. If it looks like they’re starting to dry out, add the remaining butter and olive oil.
Sprinkle 1 tablespoon of flour over the sautéed veggies and toss to coat.
Return the pork to the dutch oven. Add cider, beef stock, and herbs to the dutch oven, making sure the liquid covers (or nearly covers) the meat. Cover with a lid and place in preheated oven to cook for 3 hours, turning meat once halfway through.
While pork is in oven, begin work on the galette dough (see recipe below.)
Once the meat and vegetables are finished cooking, remove from the oven. Pull pork from the dutch oven and slice into bite sized pieces. Meanwhile, if the liquid in the dutch oven has not thickened, spend 5-10 minutes reducing it over medium heat until it is thick enough to coat a spoon. Return meat to vegetable mixture.
Galette Dough Ingredients:
- 2.5 cups of all purpose flour
- ½ teaspoon of sea salt
- 16 tablespoons (2 sticks) of frozen butter
- ½ cup of heavy cream
- ½ cup of ice water
Galette Dough Method:
Blend the flour and salt in a large bowl. Using a microplane, grate the frozen butter over the top of the flour and use your hands to work it into the flour until it begins to look coarse. In a small bowl, mix together the cream and water and immediately (since water is cold) add to the flour mixture. Using your hands, mix the liquid into the flour/butter mixture until you begin to see large lumps forming. If it is too sticky, add more flour, 1 tablespoon at a time until dough is no longer sticky.
Pull pieces together into a ball, wrap with plastic wrap and let chill in the refrigerator for 30 minutes to 24 hours.
Remove from the refrigerator and separate into 8 pieces. Roll out the dough into thin circles that are about 6-8” in diameter and lay flat on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Add several spoonfuls of the pork to the center of the galette, leaving about 2 inches around the sides. Fold up the sides, pinching to seal as you go, to encase the pork in the dough.
Beat 2 egg yolks with ¼ cup of water. Brush galette dough with beaten egg and water mixture and bake at 400 degrees F for 35-40 minutes, or until crust is golden brown.