Sunday, 23 February 2014

Big Mac Pie

I still recall the grand occasion of my my first Big Mac; some friends had come to visit and their dad offered to bring up a treat for us on the way to pick them up. I remember popping open the lid of the CFC-laden, squeaky yellow polystyrene box - global warming didn't exist in the mid-eighties - and inhaling the sweet, spicy smell; I remember the glorious anticipation as I held it triumphantly aloft in both hands; but mostly I remember how bafflingly disappointed I was by the burger itself. Too much bread, too little meat, and warm soggy lettuce. I have to concede, the sauce was  pretty amazing, though.

From that moment onward I've been a resolutely a quarter pounder with cheese kind of girl, and while I've occasionally dabbled with the odd Big Mac throughout the years, desperately wanting it to live up to it's beefy promise, it's always left me with a greasy taste of regret. 

My enduring fascination with the potential of this iconic burger meant that I was very excited to stumble upon this, rather bonkers sounding, recipe for Big Mac Pie in Niki Segnit's Flavour Thesaurus. If you don't already own a copy of this fascinating tome, then it comes highly recommended. Staple bedtime reading and very witty, too.

Comprising of a mixture of corned beef (apparently minced beef just didn't cut it), mustard and dill baked in a pastry crust, it was either going to be incredible or inedible. Fortunately it was very much the former; sweet beef, tangy mustard and dill-spiked pickles enveloped in the buttery crunch of shortcrust pastry. 

While it may not be much of a looker, the flavour resemblance to the famed burger was truly uncanny. The final stamp of approval came from the Ewing. When I told what I had made, and that there was some left in the fridge if she wanted a slice, the response was decidedly muted. A little while later I received a text message imploring me to buy more tins of Fray Bentos so I could make another one. 

The original recipe called for a layer of sliced tomatoes, but, fearing flavourless winter tomatoes would make the base soggy, I used ketchup and finely chopped onion. Dill pickle also appeared rather elusive, so I used some finely chopped sweet dill pickle slices and, to play on the burger theme, finished the pie off with a good scattering of toasted sesame seeds.

If you want to really go to town then serve a slice with a shredded iceberg salad dressed with a 'burger sauce dressing' - made from 70:30 mix of mayo and ketchup and a spoonful of finely chopped pickled cucumber and a little dried dill stirred through.

Big Mac Pie
1 quantity of shortcrust pastry (approx 320g) rolled to the thickness of a pound coin
1 tin of corned beef
1/2 onion, finely chopped
2 tbsp tomato ketchup
3 tbsp sweet dill pickles, finely chopped (or use a sweet dill pickle relish)
1 tbsp american yellow mustard
1 tbsp dried dill
1 egg, beaten
Sprinkling of toasted sesame seeds

Pre heat the oven to 190c
Line a 21cm tart tin with half the pastry.
Spread the pastry base with half the ketchup and half the onion.
Mix the corned beef, pickles, mustard and dill together and add to the tart.
Layer with the rest of the ketchup and onion.
Top with the remaining pastry, trim any rough edges and make a small slit for the team to escape.
Brush with the egg wash and finish pie with sprinkling of sesame seeds.
Bake for 40-445 minutes, or until golden brown.
Allow to cool completely before slicing.