Every year at holiday time, I shop the holiday ingredient remainder sales as diligently as many people shop the half-price sales for decorations, gift wrap and such. I buy up all the citron and candied orange peel I can find, because they’re my favorites, useful for so much more than fruitcake.
I generally snap up any mincemeat I can find. This year, I was delighted to find wee boxes of dried Nonesuch brand mincemeat; they take up so much less pantry space than the bottled kind. You just add water and bring the apple-raisin mixture to a boil.
Today, I had some cooking plans and was rummaging around in the refrigerator when I noticed that I had a half cup or so of leftover bottled mincemeat from a Christmastime baking project (mincemeat bread) as well as a couple of packaged pie crusts. Since I’d heard on National Public Radio that yesterday was National Pie Day, I decided I’d quickly throw together a pie. But instead of straight mincemeat, I planned a double decker treat:
There happened to be a tart apple in the crisper, so I lined the pie crust with lightly sugared thin-sliced apples, covered them with mincemeat and a vented top crust and put the pan in the oven.
When the timer went off, I grabbed a couple of silicone heating pads, pulled the pie from the oven and . . . Holy Culinary Disaster, Sports Fans. . . one pad slipped, the searing hot pie plate came into contact with my fingers, I flinched and a moment later there was broken pie flaring up on the edge of the oven element, piled in one corner of the oven, dripping into the bottom oven drawer and piled onto the floor.
I wish there’d been a camera on me; I must have looked like an old “I Love Lucy” episode. I shrieked. I threw the pan into the (luckily stainless steel) sink). I pulled open the utensil drawer so violently that spatulas and whisks and other tools went flying. I cursed. I grabbed a spatula and scraped the flaming pie bits from the element. I flapped my hands in consternation and indecision.
And I decided that, darnit, anything that smelled that good — even burning — wasn’t going completely to waste. So I rescued the pan, scooped up the mess from the oven floor, the oven door and even the kitchen floor (I had JUST mopped it).
If I were having company tonight, I’d be calling it — in my best Julia Child soprano — Broken Pie, unashamedly serving the shards in a deep bowl with ice cream and custard sauce, like bread pudding.
I think I’m onto something here.