Saturday, January 24, 2015

Dining In-A Culinary Tour of America: Cabot, Vermont

The City: Tonight, we travel southeast from Alakanuk, Alaska, all the way across the country, to the village of Cabot, Vermont. According to the 2010 census, the population of Cabot was about 1433 people. According to the 2000 census, about 95.96% of the population is Caucasian, with 3.13%, the second largest percentage, being made up of people of two or more races. 7.5% of the population lives below the poverty line.

Vermont was originally settled by the French, as a part of New France, which explains the culinary connections to French cuisine. They are also in close proximity to Quebec, sharing a border with the province. Prior to the European invasion of the Americas, the western part of the state was home to the Abenaki and Mohican tribes, both of which were Algonquin speakers. Their numbers declined with the arrival of more European settlers to the area in the mid 1700's.

Vermont has several culinary gems, including their legendary maple syrup, apples, and cheese. The state is also the home of Ben and Jerry's ice cream as well as the King Arthur flour company. Cabot Creamery is the state's most famous cheese company, best known for their cheddar cheese. Cabot Creamery was founded in 1919, and is a COOP consisting of private farms from all over New England.

The Food: I am not a fan of maple syrup, so I did not want to focus on this ingredient. I chose two dishes, a savory and a sweet, both pastries. For the savory I chose something called Tourtiere, which is basically a French word for "fancy pot pie". I had a recipe card that I altered for my own uses, and the recipe is as follows:

Cooking spray
1 lb. ground pork (I used ground chicken and since the brand I used only came in 13.3oz packages, I added more veggies to make up the difference)
1 tsp. salt (I ended up using more. Season as you go before you top it with dough and cannot add more.)
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/8 tsp. cayenne pepper
1/8 tsp. ground cloves
1 Tbsp. olive oil
1 cup finely chopped onion
1/2 cup finely chopped carrot
1/3 cup finely chopped celery
1(1lb.) russet potato, peeled and cut into 1/4" cubes
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 Tbsp. flour
1 1/2 cups chicken broth
3 Tbsp. freshly snipped chives(I didn't have fresh and used about half that amount in dried instead. It was just fine.)
1 pkg. refrigerated pie dough

1.) Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
2.) Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat, and coat pan with cooking spray. Add pork to pan. Sprinkle with all the spices. Cook for 5 minutes or until browned and crumbled. Remove pork from the pan. Add 1 Tbsp. oil to the pan before adding all the vegetables and garlic at one time. Saute for five minutes or two, stirring well, until the potatoes begin to look slightly opaque. Return pork to the pan. Stir in the flour, mix well and heat through for a minute. Add the chicken broth, stirring well to combine, until thickened. Remove from the heat and add the chives. Season to taste to make sure it's flavored enough.
3.) Unroll one of the pie dough circles into the bottom of a standard size pie dish. Spoon out filling into the pie dish before topping with the second unrolled pie dough circle. Crimp the ends together and slice a few slashes into the top to help steam escape. You will definitely want to put this on a baking sheet before placing it in the oven. I didn't and it dripped all over the oven.
4.) Bake for 40 minutes or until golden brown. Let it cool off for a while before serving. Makes about 6 servings.

This was really tasty. I took it to a family gathering today and our youngest member, about 3 years old, gobbled up her piece and declared it delicious! I was wary of the spices but it worked really well, I thought. The leftovers I plan on eating cold, though I suppose I could reheat them if I wanted.

The second dish was the sweet dish. This one I focused on apples and cheddar. I had heard of Apple-Cheddar pie but I can't recall if I've ever tried it before. I researched several recipes. Many of them called for the cheese to be added in with the apple filling, which sounded absolutely vile to me and I refused to do that. I found a couple that the cheese is added to the dough and that sounded better to me. I had two recipes but I combined them and then made up the rest based on how I like to make apple pie now that I don't eat sugar when it can be helped. The dough is from the Williams-Sonoma recipe, and the altered filling is from the Epicurious recipe. I went to three stores in search of Cabot cheddar, but none of them had any. I ended up with Boar's Head Vermont Cheddar, but I really did want to use Cabot. The recipe is as follows:

Apple-Cheddar Pie: 
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour 
2 tsp. salt 
1 Tbs. sugar 
6 oz. white cheddar cheese, finely grated (I used orange cheddar. Also, I think ultimately this is too much cheese. I read a comment in one of the recipes that they used 4 oz. and liked it better. I think if I was to do this again, I would try that.)
16 Tbs. (2 sticks) cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch pieces 
1/3 to 1/2 cup ice water

1.) Combine the flour, salt, sugar, and cheese in a bowl. Mix well, breaking up any clumps of cheese you come across. Place this in the freezer for ten minutes.
2.) Cut up the butter, place it in another bowl and freeze for ten minutes as well.
3.) Add the flour mixture and the butter to a food processor.(Use a large one or do it in two batches. I had no business trying to do it all in one moderately-sized food processor. It was nearly a disaster and led to a lot of stress and cleaning up afterwards.) Pulse until the dough looks like coarse crumbs. Add the water and pulse until the dough just comes together. The dough should be slightly sticky but hold together.
4.) Divide dough in half and form into disks. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least one hour.(This ended up making two pies for me. You can freeze one of the disks for another time if you like, or cut the recipe in half and only make one.)

4 Honeycrisp apples (as large as you can find)
Lemon juice
1 Tbsp. flour

1.) Peel and core one of the apples. Grate with the small setting of a grater into a small saucepan. Collect any juices. Add a bit of lemon juice to keep from browning and simmer for ten minutes or so until softened. (I did this the day before and refrigerated until ready to use.)
2.) Peel and core the rest of the apples. Slice thinly into slices and place in a large bowl. Add lemon juice to bowl and stir after the addition of each apple to prevent browning. Add the grated apple and mix well. This replaces any sugar you need to add. Sprinkle with the flour and mix well. (If you intend to only make one pie, cut all of this in half.)

1.) Take one of the dough disks out of the fridge and let sit for a few minutes to soften slightly. Put on a floured surface and roll out until 1/4" thick. The cheese in the dough makes it a bit tougher than a traditional dough so I found that using a rolling pin with my hands on the pin directly as opposed to the handles worked much better. Also, rotate the dough every minute or so, but don't turn it over. You want to work the dough as little as possible. Make sure to keep the dough and pin well floured.
2. When the dough is rolled out enough, place on a baking sheet. Spoon half of the apples into the center of the dough and turn up the sides to encase the apples, leaving a hole in the middle for the apples to poke through. I was supposed to dot the apples with butter but I forgot this. The apples did get a bit browned, so I would definitely try to add some butter just to keep it from over-browning.
3.) Repeat with the rest of the dough and the apples, if making two.
4.) Bake at 400 degrees for 20 minutes and then turn down the oven to 375 degrees. Bake for another half hour or so, until golden brown. Remove from the oven and cool before cutting into.

Note: This was technically a galette, since it was a free-formed pie, but you could do it in a pie dish if you wanted. The recipes I researched used a double-crust, meaning it had a top and bottom crust. If you wanted to make it like this, prepare the ingredients just as I described, without cutting anything in half. Place half the dough on the bottom, top with the filling and then top with the second dough round. Crimp the edges, cut holes in the top to vent, and bake the same way. You might have to increase the time to ensure that the bottom cooks properly. I thought this tasted pretty good, in spite of it being a bit too cheesy. I will try another piece tomorrow when it has fully cooled off to make completely sure. I'm not sure you would want to top this with ice cream or whipped cream.

This was a fun baking challenge for me. I was amazed that I managed to pull off the homemade dough, which isn't something I am terribly good at doing. I loved getting to share the Tourtiere with my family. It's fun seeing other people enjoy something you work so hard on preparing. I would definitely make both of these again.



Williams-sonoma apple-cheddar pie 

Epicurious Apple Pie with Cheddar Crust 

Cabot Cheese website 

Most of the facts about Vermont and the village of Cabot can be found in Wikipedia.

1 comment:

  1. I will attest to the comment that the tourtiere was indeed delicious!.