Serious Eats: Recipes

Great Smoky Bacon, Country Ham, and Sauerkraut Pie

[Photograph: Caroline Russock]

Getting my hands on the real country ham that James Villas uses in so many recipes within Pig: King of the Southern Table proved to be a bit more difficult than I imagined. But after a few trips to some of the better butchers in town I had some lovely slabs of Benton's country ham that I was just dying to use.

But my reason for seeking out country ham was this Great Smoky Bacon, Country Ham, and Sauerkraut Pie, a savory pie that's somewhere between a quiche and choucroute. I know the combination doesn't sound all that appealing at first, but in this case it really works.

A custardy mix of eggs and cream are mixed with caramelized onions, sauerkraut, and caraway seeds, and poured into a lard-based pie crust that has been brushed with Dijon mustard. On top of that goes chopped country ham and a bit of chopped parsley, which does wonders to lend a lightness to what's otherwise a very serious pie.

Once the egg mixture set and I took the pie out of the oven, I was eager to see just how this seemingly bizarre combination of flavors melded. And although on paper this was a dish that could have gone horribly wrong, in a pie crust, all of the flavors were incredible together. The eggs and cream acted as a binder, adding a richness of texture, and playing down some of the assertive flavor of the sauerkraut that some find unappealing.

It's one of those great savory pies that can be enjoyed anytime of the day (and that precisely what I did with the leftovers). Heat up a slice for breakfast, or have it with a salad for lunch or dinner.

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