Carolina Pork and Sweet Potato Pie with Biscuit Batter Crust recipe from Pig: King of the Southern Table cookbook by James Villas
Author James Villas:
Today, North Carolina is the South’s leading producer of both pork and sweet potatoes, so it’s hardly surprising that home cooks all over the state pride themselves on elaborate stews, casseroles, and pies that utilize these two important staples, such as this pork and sweet potato pie. Most likely, this biscuit-batter crust can be traced back to the loose suet and short pastry crusts that topped the dramatic raised savory meat and fish pies of the first English settlers basically the same batter crust that, when sweetened, was also used to make the South’s distinctive fruit cobblers. Just make sure that the batter is not too stiff when mixed; if so, add enough extra milk to produce a very soft batter that can be easily spooned over the filling. This pie is one of the best ways I know to use the leftovers of a large roasted pork shoulder or fresh ham (trimmed of fat).
THE RECIPE. We used pulled pork instead of the cubed pork. If you have either one left over, you owe it to yourself to try this recipe. It couldn’t be simpler.
THE RESULT. And it couldn’t be better. We wouldn’t change a thing about this pork and sweet potato pie. Well, except… we smoothed the dough for the crust over the top, instead of spooning it on top like biscuits. (We didn’t quite “get” this from the recipe.) So our result resembled a pot pie more than a stew with dumplings. But I don’t think that mistake affected the taste, which was a lovely balance of a thick meaty/vegetable base with a not-too-dense crust topping.
Carolina Pork and Sweet Potato Pie with Biscuit Batter Crust
Yield: 6 servings
For the Filling:
- 3 slices bacon
- 1 large onion, chopped
- 1 celery rib, chopped
- 1 medium green bell pepper, seeded and chopped
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- 2 pounds lean cooked pork, cut into small cubes
- 2 sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into small cubes
- 2 cups beef broth
- 2 tablespoons yellow cornmeal
- 2 tablespoons tomato paste
- 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
- Tabasco sauce to taste
- 1 teaspoon salt
- Freshly ground black pepper to taste
For the Crust:
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 3 tablespoons vegetable shortening
- ¾ cup milk
- 1 large egg, beaten
1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Grease a 2-quart baking dish or casserole and set aside.
2. To make the filling, fry the bacon in a large skillet over moderate heat till almost crisp; drain on paper towels. Add the onion, celery, bell pepper, and garlic to the skillet and stir for about 3 minutes. Crumble the cooked bacon over the vegetables, and then add the remaining filling ingredients, stirring. Reduce the heat to low, simmer, stirring from time to time, for about 30 minutes, and then transfer to the prepared baking dish.
3. To make the crust, combine the flour, baking powder, salt, and shortening in a bowl and work the mixture with your fingers till mealy. Add the milk and egg and stir till well blended and smooth.
4. Spoon the batter over the top of the pork mixture and bake till golden, about 40 minutes.
5. Serve hot.
© 2010 James Villas
From Pig: King of the Southern Table,Â by James Villas, photography by Lucy Schaeffer (Wiley)