For those of you at the back not paying attention, yesterday I narrated the events which lead to a crunch point - at which it was decided to launch an attempt on Mount Pie.
The recipe, found here at Nigella.com, is for Bacon and Egg pie.
A cynical choice, you might think. But as we walk through the highways and byways of life, I find that when venturing into unknown territory it always pays to employ whatever strengths you may already have. If the unknown territory was, say, an area on the map marked 'Here Be Draggons' then you might choose to take your trusty compass, your camera, and several hundred heavily armed friends. If venturing into terra incognita in the equally bewildering land of culinary exploits, it might just pay to stick to what you know. And if there's one thing I know how to cook, after years of university and houseshare bachelordom, it's bacon and eggs.
From this vantage point of post-pie experience, allow me to walk you through the recipe as though you were accompanying me on my quest for the first time.
Quoth Nigella: "Make the pastry by freezing the fats and flour together for 10 minutes, then tip out into the processor and blitz to a flaky rubble."
Comparative novice that I am, I convinced myself that Nigella didn't mean to merely place the fats and flour next to each other in the freezer, as that would be silly. In retrospect, this may have been a good idea. I mixed them together, roughly, ignoring the big lumps of butter and shortening goo, and shoved them into the freezer while slicing the bacon into bits prior to frying them.
The frying of bacon commenced. (This is called jumping the gun)
At the requisite time I turned off the bacon and took the pastry mix out of the freezer. Well, I say pastry mix. At this point in time it was merely very cold flour and goo.
As Nigella made it sound so very dynamic and exciting, I was looking forward to the 'blitzing into a flaky rubble' part. I tipped the mixture into a bowl and grabbed the handheld blender. At the first touch of the spinning blades, there was a POUF and an ominous white mushroom cloud of flour rose up from the bowl and gently began to settle on all of the surfaces in the kitchen.
I mixed the butter in a little more with a fork so that there wasn't so much loose flour. At this second application of the handheld blender, the bulk of the mix was powdery, if not flaky, rubble. Like a sort of uniform rubble you might buy by the ton from your local builder's merchants if you were going to mix concrete in your garden with your Dad - not the correct, Nigella-sort of exciting flaky rubble at all. I was chasing lumps of butter around the bowl with the blades, which when they got to a lump, took the lump in and threw it with considerable force to the other side of the bowl. If I had been a lump of butter in that bowl, I would have given up. I would have told the mixer blades anything they wanted to know and quietly broken into flaky rubble. But the butter-lumps just would not give in. I was hurling them about the place with zing-thump! zing-thump! noises before I decided that, given mushroom-clouds and butterlump slinging, perhaps the processor that Nigella had in mind was of the other kind - the desktop blender, if you will.
I got our lovely 1970s style blender out, tipped the mixture in, and hit GO. Apart from electric motor noises, nothing seemed to happen for a few seconds, until I noticed that a sort of mousse was forming in the base. At this point I panicked and cursed Nigella and her recipe roundly. I poured the mixture back into the bowl with some water, the flaky, excitingly blitzed rubble now a distant fantasy.
Cursing my ultra-feminist boy-hating middle school Home Economics teacher under and over my breath - so feminist that she helped perpetuate chauvinist stereotypes by giving her earnest help to the girls and pouring scorn and occasionally boiling oil (not really) on the boys - I started to mix it together with my hands...and surprise of all surprises, pastry happened.
I regained a little faith in Nigella, and remembered how Richard Clifton had wound that teacher up so far she nearly exploded by deliberately baiting her about never needing to address a business letter to a woman (GOD we were mean - who'd be a teacher, eh?) and I felt a little better.
Back to the recipe.
Quoth Nigella: " Add enough iced water to bind, then form into 2 discs, cover them with clingfilm and rest in the fridge for 20 minutes."
Form into 2 discs. Three words and one number. This bit took me a little longer than I was expecting. I rolled and rolled and rolled that pastry. It didn't know what had hit it, it was rolled so much. I was half expecting it to ask for mercy. But could I form into 2 discs? Could I bollocks.
In the end I settled for 'form into one bit which looks a bit like Australia if it's the other way up and another bit which looks a bit like a lumpy amorphous blob of pastry rolled to death by an over-zealous piemaking novice'.
Australia was used to line the pie dish. There was no way I was going to attempt to transfer my precious 'discs' to the fridge.
Quoth Nigella: "Cook the pancetta or bacon in a frying pan with the onion, peppering well. Beat the spring onion, parsley and eggs together, and set aside while you roll out the pastry."
Seeing as the blenders were both out and covered in a fine layer of flour, I didn't just beat the onion and whatnot - I blitzed them, and damn but did it feel good to blitz something.
Back to good old Nige: "Using one of the discs, line the dish, leaving an overhang. Roll out the other half to make a lid, and set aside for one moment. Transfer the pancetta and onion mixture to the pastry-lined pie plate and pour over the spring onion, parsley and eggs. With a little cold water, dampen the edges of the pastry case and cover with the rolled-out lid. Cut off excess pastry, and seal and pinch all around the rim. Make a hole in the lid to let out steam, put in the oven and bake for 30 minutes."
Australia was uneven. I was stealing bits of New South Wales and trying to plug them into the gap between the Northern Territory and Queensland to try and form a disc. It didn't work all that well, but in the end there was a rough covering of the edges of the pie dish.
In went the bacon, and poured over that was the BLITZED egg mixture. The Amorphous Blob was placed on top, and into the oven it went.
When the pie went into the oven, the
battleground kitchen looked like this:
When it came out of the oven the pie looked like this:
Quoth Nigella: "Serves 6"
Or two people for one dinner and two lunches.