Grill-roasted Caramel Apple Pie
I love apple pie. Breakfast, lunch, dinner, or late night snack – I say any time is a good time for apple pie. Amazingly, this particular recipe has raised the bar for me. It is my new favorite apple pie. In fact, a coworker declared it to be the best thing I’ve ever made. Most people don’t think to use their grill as an oven, but the heat circulation in the Hybrid Fire Grill is so even and consistent that it lends itself extremely well to baking and roasting. Tart apples, a rich, sweet sauce, and spiced, crunchy pecan streusel combine with the heat of the grill to make magic.
For the pie crust
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 teaspoons granulated sugar
- ¾ teaspoon kosher salt
- 2/3 cup canola oil
- ¼ cup cold whole milk
For the streusel
- 1/3 cup turbinado sugar
- ¼ cup light brown sugar
- ½ cup all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon freshly-grated nutmeg
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
- 8 tablespoons (1 stick) cold butter, in pieces
- 1 cup pecan halves
For the main pie filling
- 1 egg
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 2 teaspoons Madagascar bourbon pure vanilla extract
- 1 cup light brown sugar
- 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- ¼ teaspoon freshly-grated nutmeg
- ¼ teaspoon ground cloves
- 4 large granny smith apples
For the caramel sauce
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 6 tablespoons room temperature butter, in pieces
- ½ cup heavy cream, warmed
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
Prepare the grill for indirect grilling at 350°F. On a Kalamazoo K750 Hybrid Fire Grill, you can run the left main burner on HIGH, with the center and right main burners, and the ignition burner, all OFF. The hood vent can be adjusted to fine tune the temperature. Start with it about 20% open. The pie will be cooked in the right two-thirds of the grill, which is the indirect zone. Thoroughly preheat the grill with the hood closed, dialing in the temperature while you prepare the pie.
Begin by making the pie crust. This is an Amish “pat-in-pan” style pie crust, which I first saw in the book Cooking from Quilt Country. Stir together the flour, sugar, and salt in a 10 inch cast iron skillet. Use a fork to beat together the milk and oil in a measuring cup until it is emulsified, then pour it into the skillet. Use the same fork to stir the wet and dry ingredients together until they are well combined. Press the mixture into the bottom and up the sides of the skillet to form the crust. Reserve.
Next, prepare the streusel. Place the sugars, flour, spices, and salt in a food processor. Pulse once to combine. Then add the butter. Pulse until the butter is incorporated down to pea-size crumble. Be careful not to over-process. Cover and refrigerate.
Start the main filling by whisking together all of the ingredients except the apples. Reserve. Core the apples and slice about ¼ inch thick, leaving the skin intact.
To make the caramel sauce, place the sugar in a medium sauce pan. A rounded chef’s pan is ideal. Heat the sugar by itself over low heat, stirring constantly with a soft spatula. Stir until the sugar melts and then turns into an amber liquid, about 20 minutes time. This step requires ample patience. Stir in the butter 1 tablespoon at a time until melted. Adding too much butter too quickly will cause the caramel to seize. Stir in the cream, pouring it in slow stream. Add the salt. Let boil for 1 minute before removing from heat.
While the caramel sauce is still warm, add the sliced apples to the pie shell. Pour in the main pie filling, then pour in the caramel sauce.
Place the pie in the indirect zone, close the grill, and roast for 20 minutes. Rotate the skillet 180 degrees and top the pie with the streusel. Add the pecans on top of the streusel, and continue roasting for 20 minutes more. Rotate the skillet 180 degrees a second time, and continue roasting for 20 to 35 minutes more. The total cooking time will be 60 to 75 minutes.
Remove the pie from the grill and let it rest on a cooling rack for a minimum of 4 hours before serving.