This is a recipe that emerged from a snowed-in day on which I found myself looking for something on the internet to make with the last of a package of bacon and a pomegranate on the brink of spoiling. I believe it was this site that suggested a salad of sorts with hunks of sweet potato, and a daydream of this pie immediately swam into my brain. After hitting up the hotline for savory pie crust suggestions, I pieced together elements of my favorites and had at it. Success! I like to make this into mini pies sometimes for a higher crust:filling ratio. I've served it at every temperature, and as a dessert, side, or main. Though I would recommend sticking with shortening rather than lard if it's going to be a dessert. —chiaralucia
for the crust:
1 1/4 cups
rubbed (dry) sage
salt and more than a couple good twists of the peppermill
cold shortening or lard, in small cubes
cold chicken broth
cold vodka or gin
for the filling/topping:
worth of sweet potato (3 to 3 1/2 lbs raw)
orange juice (decrease by 1 T if using store bought in a carton)
Heat the oven to 400 degrees and stab each sweet potato several times with a fork or pairing knife to make drainage holes, the sugar will ooze. Bake the potatoes in an oven safe dish until exceedingly tender (up to an hour and 20 minutes depending on the size of your potatoes). Set aside to cool completely. Reduce oven temp to 350.
While the potatoes are baking, mix up your crust; in a large bowl--feel free to use your food processor here--add flour, salt, pepper, and sage (chop, or rub briskly between your palms to crumble). Grate the frozen butter and add the lard/shortening. Blend with a pastry blender (or process in short bursts) till no lump of fat is larger than a pea. Sprinkle the booze and chicken broth over top and mix lightly with a fork until you can gather the dough into a cohesive ball. It'll be crumblier than usual, add a tiny bit more liquid if you like, but know that the refrigeration remedies this for the most part. Wrap tightly in saran and refrigerate for at least 45 minutes.
Pull the skin off the baked sweet potatoes and deposit the flesh into a mixing bowl. Add the egg yolks, whole egg, vanilla, brown sugar, maple syrup, OJ, and salt. Have at it with a potato masher or immersion blender if you want a super silky texure. Taste (if you know where your eggs came from!) and adjust the salt/sugar.
Flour a surface and your rolling pin well, the dough may have become sticky during its resting period. Alternatively, roll the crust between two layers of saran wrap/parchment/wax paper. Roll the crust into a 10 inch circle (adjust depending on the dimensions of your pan) and arrange it in a pie dish. Buffer edges with the overhang and crimp to your heart's content! Scrape all the sweet potato filling into the shell.
Bake at 350 for 30-35 minutes till the crust just starts to brown. Meanwhile, cook the bacon about 3/4 of the way through (so it's still a little floppy). Pull out the pie and arrange the bacon on top. I've done a fully-woven bacon lattice, but most often I cut the bacon into squares and make a checkerboard. Pop it back in the oven for 10 more minutes, or until the crust has reached a desirable shade of golden* and the bacon is crisped to your liking.
Pull the pie from the oven and cover any areas of naked sweet potato filling with pomegranate kernels.
Let cool at least 10 minutes and serve. Extra pomegranate and bacon on the plate never ever hurts.
*If the crust gets too golden too quickly, pop on a pie crust shield or fashion one out of foil.