blogdom... After reading this post, my guess is that TUESDAY's WITH DORRIE author Dorrie Greenspan will never blog again. Once she takes a look at this, all her efforts to cook desserts will pale in comparison.
OK, that was a tongue superglued firmly in cheek joke. Hopefully you all have taken a look at Dorrie's site (and book), and knows that she is a dessert god. I am not a dessert god; neither making, nor eating. No matter how it looks - no matter how many chins I seem to be growing, I usually politely eat about half of what I am given, if that much. But if it doesn't have bacon on it, I usually pass on dessert (and double up on whatever had bacon on it). Having said that, I have been on a quest for GRILLED desserts.
So, the other night, I was watching one of those Throwdown Bobby Flay shows on the Food Network. And there was a paper bag APPLE PIE challenge. It was right before bedtime, and this really did come to me in a dream... So sit down, sit down, I'm about to rock a boat...
OK, everybody at once, repeat after me... Well damn, he says it was grilled, and cooked in a paper bag... Tell us Dave, how did you do it???
First, a little advertising... I am in a guild... Fire cookers are uniting. If you grill or smoke or just like the idea of live fire cooking, take a look at the Outdoor Cooking Guild. It's a new club, with monthly challenges, and a great group of bloggers specializing in outdoor cooking. You can reach the homesite by clicking HERE. And while you are there, take a look at the "HOME" page for Livefire, leader of the cult. Great recipes, stories and some of the most beautiful photos in the WorldWW. This month's challenge will be turkey, so you all will have the benefit of our collective wisdom before you have your mother-in-law over for Thanksgiving dinner.
OK, back to the recipe... Here's what I did...
But first, why on a grill? I do a great deal of backyard entertaining. Often, I will smoke a main course, and grill the sides. But there are times when I have the sides also in the smoker, or are revenge dishes (best served cold), freeing up my grill. Imagine if you will, my grill close to my table with my guests sitting around waiting to be served. Now imagine the smell of a "baking" apple pie wafting through the air as the main course is being served. An Apple Pie is PERFECT for outdoor grilling.
Now... Here's what I did...
As always, assemble the ingredients. This is an experiment. I know how and why things cook, and I was confident that this would work. But, at the same time, I was testing the basic idea and technique more than the actual recipe. So, it was a simple recipe, nothing fancy...
4 Fuji Apples (each pealed and cut into 16 wedges)
2 sticks softened butter
1 cup brown sugar
1 tablespoon Cinnamon
1 tablespoon nutmeg
Combine everything except the apples into a soft paste consistency. You all know the trick of putting your Apple slices into a bowl of lemon water to keep them from turning brown. I am sure you know enough to do that, so I won't bother passing that tip on.
Don't you judge me... I also used...
1 frozen pre-made pie crust
1 1/2 cups cheddar cheese
Roll out the pie crust (don't you judge me), and layer the bottom with apples.
Spread 1/3rd of the butter/brown sugar goo over the first layer of apples.
Stuff with cheddar cheese. Sure, I grew up in Illinois, but I was close enough to Wisconsin to learn the beauty of cheddar cheese in an apple pie. Lots of people will mix this in with the dough, but I like lots of cheese in my pie... Don't you judge me unless you've tried it.
Add the top layer of apples. I was not going to use a top crust, so try to make it pretty. I tried, but pretty is not always my strong suit.
Spread the rest of the goo on top. trust me, it all melts and flavors the apples...
Turn up the edges of the dough to form as tall a catch all for the melting butter as possible, and really...
Slide into a paper bag
Close the bag up.
And, now is the time for you all to ask... "Why a paper bag?".
Well, first, it came to me in a dream. And possibly it was the voice of God. In Acts 10:9-16, God spoke to Peter in a dream and (arguably) gave Catholics and Protestants the right to eat pigs (bacon, pork, ribs). This is why conservative Jews refrain from eating pork, while most of the rest of the world does not follow this practice anymore. Who am I to argue with (possibly) the voice of God.
Steam. The bag locks the steam in, helping to cook the apples through, while keeping a crispness. It sounds odd, but it really does work... The brown paper bags helps the apples cook long enough and stay juicy without over baking or over browning the crust.
Here's the rest of what I did...
OK, know your grill. My grill is hotter when set up for indirect heat about 2 to 3 inches above the grates. So I inverted a small casserole dish and put the bag on top of the dish.
I have a 4 burner gas grill. I turned the two side burners on high, and left off the two middle burners. This makes my grill chamber (once the lid is closed) a convection oven. If you keep the pie in the middle of the grill, above the flames, the bag wont burn. It killed me, I was dieing to look, but I didn't... for 1 hour and 15 minutes I didn't look. But at the end of that time, if I put my ear close (and turned up my hearing aid), I could hear the juices bubbling. It was time for step two of the brown bag cooking process.
Cut a hole in the bag. The hole cut in the paper bag is done after the apples cook. This allows the crust to get brown for a few minutes and get crisp. Really, the bag just helps keeps the pie from over cooking and the natural wood flavors from the bag give it the distinct taste that everyone loves. With the hole open, the smells really filled my backyard entertainment area. Exactly what I wanted. I did this just as the main course was served. People were dieing to try the brown bag apple pie.
I let the pie cook for an additional 30 minutes while we enjoyed our main course. Carley Simon's "Anticipation" played on the iPod... you should play it now...
OK... One issue... The bottom crust disintegrated. When I do this again (and I will), I will use a more substantial home made crust.
But the important part... The apples were cooked through, yet very crisp. The flavors of the sugar, cheese and butter really made this snap.
A little canned whip cream (don't you judge me), the pie served warm and this was a huge hit. The presentation of the sealed bag when guests arrived, followed by the ceremonial cutting a hole to let the smells escape (and crisp up the crust) makes this an IDEAL grill presentation dessert.
Hey Dorrie... Look what I did! But I think your job as blogdom's dessert goddess is safe.