One of the things I appreciate most about Ascension Lutheran’s 1989 cookbook is that it devotes an entire section to brunch. Twelve pages. Thirty recipes. And a little bit of everything, not just subtle variants on a breakfast casserole.
The Cheese Apple Sausage Tart is a delicious and hearty brunch dish and also checks all of the right boxes for a Lutheran congregation in Wisconsin. European-style Wisconsin cheese? Delicious Wisconsin apples? Sausages in a region with strong German and Polish roots? They’re all here in one recipe, packed into a store-bought pie crust.
Now this is a recipe I’ve had to toy with a little bit. In the original recipe the sausage and cheese are layered with raw onions and apples, which can sweat a lot of liquid during the baking process. There’s a little too much liquid for the tart to fully set up and it can make the pie crust soggy. I’ve found that sweating the onions first and letting them caramelize a little bit, fixes the texture and adds a little bit more flavor and color to the whole affair. I’ve also substituted about half of the Swiss cheese with Gruyere, which melts a little bit better.
I’ve also gone a little bit overboard with the sausage. The original recipe uses a little bit of pre-cooked breakfast sausage for flavoring, but it’s not quite front and center. I prefer to use a mild, sweet breakfast sausage – chicken-apple sausage if I can find it – and just go crazy like I’m topping a Chicago-style pizza. The sausage is mild enough not to distract from the apples and onions in the tart, but adds enough of a proteiny punch that I don’t need to serve a side of ham or bacon.
This tart makes six main-dish servings and could probably feed ten as part of a larger brunch spread. I will typically serve this with an Apple Pudding Bread from the same cookbook and a side of fresh strawberries.
- 1 9 inch pie crust (unbaked, or use your favorite pie crust recipe)
- 8 oz gruyere (grated)
- 8 oz swiss cheese (grated)
- 12 oz chicken apple sausage (or similar mild breakfast sausage)
- 1 sweet onion (thinly sliced)
- 2 tart apples (peeled and sliced, as for apple pie)
- 4 eggs
- 1 tbsp all-purpose flour
- 1 tsp salt (optional)
- 1 cup milk
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 1 1/2 tbsp melted butter
- Preheat oven to 375 F.
- Cut the sausage into half-inch slices and cook in a skillet over medium heat until lightly browned on all surfaces. Remove the sausage and set aside.
- Add the onion to the same skillet and cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally. If the onion is sticking to the skillet you may add a little bit of oil or butter. When the onion is translucent and sweaty, reduce the heat and continue cooking for 5-10 minutes until onion is lightly browned and has given up a lot of its liquid.
- Place the pie crust in a 9-inch pie tin. Combine the Gruyere and Swiss cheeses. Add about half the cheese to the bottom of the crust, followed by the apples, and then the cooked onions. Add the remaining cheese, then top with browned sausage as you would with a pizza.
- Mix flour, salt (if using), and melted butter in a small mixing bowl until well-combined, then whisk in eggs. Combine milk and cream and whisk in slowly to form a smooth, creamy mixture. Carefully pour the mixture over the top of the pie to moisten.
- Place pie in oven on center rack, with a baking sheet or aluminum foil underneath. The filling will sometimes overflow during the first 10-15 minutes of baking so be careful. Cook 45-60 minutes until top is browned and center is mostly set. Let cool 10 minutes before serving.