The Canadian and American central banks are pulling out all the stops to support the economic recovery, with the latest move being their indications that they expect to hold interest rates near zero over the next few years. However, as the COVID-19 pandemic persists, the hoped-for sustained revival in consumer borrowing and spending is anything but certain. In an unprecedented move on Sept. 16, the U.S. Federal Reserve said it doesn’t expect to raise its key interest rate until 2023, providing a very powerful signal that near-zero rates are here to stay for a long time. A week earlier, the Bank of Canada had said, “The Governing Council will hold the policy interest rate at the effective lower bound [0.25 percent] until economic slack is absorbed so that the 2…
Prep Time: 45 minutes
Total Time: 2 1/2 hours
This rustic pie is a delicious, savory way to enjoy seasonal apples. The pie is assembled and baked in the same cast-iron pan used to cook the bacon and onions for the filling, which allows the flavors to meld beautifully, and keeps the process (and clean up!) simple.
The cider syrup can be stored in the refrigerator for up to a year. Consider doubling the cider amount in the recipe (just add another 30 minutes or so to the reduction time) so that you can have the syrup on hand through the winter鈥攜ou won’t regret it!聽
For the Cider Syrup
- 1/2 gallon fresh apple cider
For the Crust
- 5 tablespoons ice water
- 1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
- 1 1/4 cup white unbleached all-purpose flour, plus extra for dusting
- 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
- 9 tablespoons cold unsalted butter
For the Filling
- 3 ounces (about 3 slices) smoked bacon
- 2 to 3 small yellow onions (about 10 ounces)
- 2 crisp medium apples, preferably Honeycrisp, Cripps Pink, Gala, or Braeburn (about 12 ounces)
- Fresh cracked black pepper to taste
- Sea salt to taste
- Heaping 1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
- 3 to 4 ounces aged, extra sharp cheddar cheese
For the Cider Syrup
In a medium-sized, heavy-bottomed pot (enameled cast-iron is preferable) over high heat, bring the cider to a boil.聽
Reduce heat to medium-low and allow the cider to simmer until reduced to 1/8 of its starting quantity (i.e., 1/2 gallon of cider should reduce to 1 cup of syrup, 1 gallon to 2 cups), approximately 2 1/2 hours. Bear in mind that the surface area and size of the pot will affect the length of the reduction time鈥攖he larger the surface area, the faster the process.
Close to the end, test the syrup with a spoon: It should run off the spoon like heated honey. Be careful not to over-reduce, or you will have a thick, sticky mess on your hands. The syrup will thicken slightly as it cools.聽聽
While the cider simmers, you can prepare the rest of the recipe.
For the Pie Crust
Mix the water and vinegar together in a small glass and set in the freezer to chill.
Place 1/3 cup of the flour into the bowl of a food processor, and add the salt. Pulse several times to combine.
Cut the cold butter into small chunks and add to the food processor. Process until the mixture has become a paste and formed a ball, about 15 seconds. There should be no loose flour left.
Use a spatula, a fork, or (carefully) your fingers to break up the paste-ball into smaller chunks and distribute them around the bottom of the processor bowl. Sprinkle on the remaining flour and pulse several times, until the mixture is the consistency of very coarse grain.聽
Sprinkle 3 tablespoons of the chilled vinegar-water over the mixture and pulse several more times. Before adding more vinegar-water, check the consistency of the dough. When pinched between fingers, it should hold together without feeling wet. Add more vinegar-water one tablespoon at a time, as needed, pulsing and checking consistency between additions.
Turn the dough onto a lightly floured surface and gently shape it into a thick disc. (Do not knead!) Wrap in parchment paper or plastic wrap and chill for 1 hour.
For the Filling
Slice the uncooked bacon into generous 1/2-inch pieces.
Peel the onions and cut in half lengthwise. Slice the halves horizontally into 1/4 inch-thick half-rings.聽聽
Heat a well-seasoned 9-inch cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat and partially cook the bacon, until the edges are light brown but not crisp, about 3 minutes. Transfer the bacon to a small bowl and set aside, leaving as much of the bacon drippings in the pan as possible.
Reduce heat to medium. Place the sliced onion in the hot pan and saut茅, stirring occasionally. After about 5 minutes, cool the pan with a small shot of water. Saut茅 onions until they are glassy and nicely browned but not caramelized, about 10 minutes. Transfer to a small bowl and set aside. Using a paper towel, wipe the skillet out, but do not wash.聽
Wash the apples (do not peel them), cut each apple in half vertically, and remove the cores (or use an apple corer, then cut in half vertically). Cut each half into 1/8 to 1/4 inch-thick slices. Set aside.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
Lay a sheet of baking parchment on your work surface and lightly dust with flour. Place the chilled pie dough in the center, then flip the dough over, dusted side up, and top with another sheet of parchment.聽
Using a heavy rolling pin, roll the dough out until it is approximately 1 1/2 inch wider in diameter than your cast-iron skillet; it should be about 1/4 inch thick.
Remove the top layer of parchment and lay the pan face down on the center of the dough. With your hand under the bottom sheet of parchment, flip the pan and dough over simultaneously so that the dough ends up in the pan, intact. Remove the parchment and gently ease the crust to fit inside the pan, leaving the excess dough to hang over the edges.
Spread the cooked onion evenly onto the crust. Layer the apple slices over the onion, and then top with the partially cooked bacon. Sprinkle cracked black pepper, salt, and dried thyme over the top of the filling.
Working in a circle around the pan, gently fold the excess dough in over the outer edges of the filling with your fingers, using a butter knife to loosen dough from the sides of the pan, if necessary.聽
Bake for 45 minutes, or until the crust is golden brown. Remove from the oven and let rest for 15 to 20 minutes.
Slice the cheddar cheese into thin wedges. Cut the pie into quarters and transfer to serving plates. Top with the cheese wedges and drizzle with cider syrup. Enjoy!聽
Focus News: Rustic Skillet Apple Pie With Bacon, Cheddar, and Cider Syrup
Facebook has shut down more than 180 fake accounts, groups, pages, and Instagram accounts that it determined to be run in China, which posted content on the U.S. presidential election and spread Beijing’s talking points on a range of topics, from the South China Sea to Hong Kong protests. The U.S. social media giant announced the takedown in a blog post published on Sept. 22, saying that these accounts were a violation of its rule against “coordinated inauthentic behavior on behalf of a foreign or government entity.” In total, 155 Facebook accounts, 11 pages, nine groups, and six Instagram accounts were shut down. The Instagram app is owned by Facebook. Nathaniel Gleicher, Facebook’s head of security policy and author of the blog post, explained that while people behind these accounts…