Yesterday my wife and I hosted a pie party. The idea was for guests to bring their best pie (savory or sweet) and let the best pie win.
We had seven pies, five savory and two sweet. The photo below has the spread. Starting from the top left, in clockwise order:
1) A lemon meringue pie, with a speculoos (a Belgian cookie) crust;
2) A pumpkin-date-honey pie with golden marshmallow and a graham cookie crust;
3) A potato-onion pie;
4) A pie filled with cheese and eggplants;
5) A pie filled pork shoulder, ground pork and potatoes;
6) The Outrageous Pie, a lard crust pie filled with layers of mac and cheese and chili con carne;
7) A roasted tomatoes with goat cheese pie.
There is a reason why the roasted tomato/goat cheese pie has the largest photo: it won the popular vote. By a small margin, but it won. And I am not surprised: this is a pie that my wife often bakes when we have guests, and it never fails to amaze people.
I am personally disappointed: my "Outrageous pie" didn't win, but it came a good second. I had the idea for that pie while talking to the friend who woud then bring the pork shoulder pie (excellent pie, by the way). I was telling him how I wanted to make something outrageous, and I was thinking of having a mac and cheese filled pie. He then mentioned an Italian regional specialty called Pasticcio Ferrarese, which is a pie filled with layers of pasta, meat ragu' and cheese.
I thought: why not replacing replacing the Italian ingredients with American classic comfort food? Why not do this with layers of mac and cheese and chili con carne? So I came up with this:
What I thought would make me win was instead my nemesis: the crust. I had bought home made lard, because I thought that would give me the flakiest crust. The problem? I wasn't entirely clear on what flaky meant. I had been reading a lot about how lard gave you the best crust, as in the most "flaky". It didn't occur to me to double-check on the dictionary what flaky meant. It means that it crumbles! So the crust came out technically perfect, flaky alright. But was it the ideal crust for such a heavy pie like mine? Nope.
I must say though that I was very happy with the final result: this is a pie that needs a bit of refinement (I need a better separation between the layers, because I would like them to be better defined and to show clearly), but it is a a very good pie, if you ask me...
The second pie I made was a pumpkin-honey-dates pie with a graham cracker crust and a marshmallow golden topping. The pie was good, but nothing to write home about. I didn't think you could taste the dates, and I am not entirely sure of the contrast between the fridge cold pie and the warm marshmallow. I had taken the recipe from the book Pie, by Ken Haedrich.
Anyway, I had already thought of giving out the recipe of the roasted tomato - goat cheese pie in the past. I guess now I have no excuses to delay. In my next post you shall have it. For my outrageous pie you will have to wait until I find the perfect crust.