I've been taking a series of pork classes from the owners of a local farm. The classes have been awesome, not only because of the content being taught (think cured meats, sausage making, and butchering) but also because of the food served. Everything is focused on the most local and freshest ingredients possible, and classes have started with cheese trays, charcuterie tastings, and homemade hummus and pickles. They were all delicious, but the tastiest of all was a breakfast pie filled with fresh breakfast sausage, cubes of potato, onion, and cheese held together with eggs and baked in a flaky and flavorful pie crust made with home-rendered lard. You can purchase this pie from the business/farm offering the class, but I decided I would try to recreate it at home. We have made this several times, and it is great.
The breakfast pie I ate at the class was actually made with homemade pimiento cheese mixed into the filling, but since that's not something I normally have on hand, and I want this pie to be something I can put together using what I have (and without having to go through too much fuss), I use either sharp cheddar or a mixture of cheddar and habanero cheddar. Cheddar and pepper jack would work as would just about any other combination of semi-hard cheeses you have on hand.
This pie is delicious for breakfast, but it also makes for a fabulous supper. We like to serve it with a green salad of whatever is in season. Right now, that means a salad of mixed baby greens including kale, beet greens, and arugula tossed in an apple cider/honey vinaigrette. It also reheats really well making it perfect for leftovers. Yum!
Breakfast Pie- makes one 9-inch pie
The recipe for the pie crust comes from Grateful Growers Farm. It makes 5 pie crusts, but they freeze beautifully. The crust is exceptionally flaky because of the lard.
1 russet potato, peeled and diced (other varieties of potato will work also)
1 onion, diced
2 tsp olive oil
1/2 pound bulk breakfast sausage
1 cup cheddar cheese (or a mixture of cheddar and pepper jack)
2 garlic cloves, minced
4 large eggs, lightly beaten
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1 pie crust (recipe follows)
4 cups of all-purpose flour
1 TBSP sugar
2 tsp salt
1 1/2 cups lard, chilled
1 TBSP vinegar
1/2 cup cold water
For the crust: Place the flour, sugar, and salt in the bowl of a food processor. Pulse several times to mix. Place the lard in the food processor and pulse again until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Beat the vinegar, egg, and water together in a small bowl and slowly add the mixture to the food processor until the mixture comes together. Divide the dough into 5 equal portioned disks (or 4 if making 10 inch pies). Reserve one disk for the pie and wrap and freeze the remaining disks.
Roll the disk for the pie into a 10 inch circle on a lightly floured surface. Place the crust in a pie pan and crimp the edges. Chill the crust while making the filling.
For the filling: Preheat oven to 375 degrees. In a skillet, heat oil on medium heat. Add potato and onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until potato is almost tender, 10-15 minutes. Move potato and onion mixture to the edges of the skillet. Add sausage in the middle and cook, crumbling, until browned. Add the garlic cloves and cook 1 minute more. Place the cooked sausage and potato mixture in a bowl. Add the cheese, beaten eggs, salt, and pepper, and mix well. Pour the filling into the chilled crust. Bake 20-30 minutes until filling is just set and crust is brown (it should jiggle a little in the center). Remove from the oven and allow to cool 10-15 minutes before slicing.