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My All-Pie Thanksgiving Fantasy

"Finally, my all-pie fantasy would be realized."

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[Photographs: Robyn Lee and J. Kenji Lopez-Alt]

When you think about Thanksgiving and you think about various elements of the Thanksgiving meal, it seems like you're just waiting through the big meal to get to the pie. I really believe this, which is why I always fantasized about an all-pie Thanksgiving. (Anyone with me on this?)

At an editorial meeting about a month ago, we were at the office talking about Thanksgiving coverage and I shared this fantasy with the team. Knowing how much I adore and obsess over pie, the Serious Eats editors weren't too shocked, so we did the only thing we know how to do: make it happen.

Our office was covered in pies: four of my absolute favorite sweet pies shipped in from across the country: Cherry Crumble from Grand Traverse Pie Co. in Michigan, Triple Coconut Pie from Tom Douglas in Seattle, Apple-Rhubarb Pie from Coffee Cup Cafe in Sully, Iowa, and a Pear-Apple with Pecan Streusel from Hoosier Mama (Chicago). (Overnighting pies is not an easy thing to do; very few of them actually survive the rocky ride. We've included some favorite sweet recipes here for you to make instead.)

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Kenji even volunteered (maybe volunteer is too strong a word) to make four savory pies: A turkey pie, a stuffing pie, a mashed potato pie, and a green bean casserole pie (yep, we sure went there).

Finally, my all-pie fantasy would be realized.

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I've said in the past that anything worth eating on its own would be better as a pie, and my feelings were corroborated by how good each of the savories was. I always lament how crustless green bean casserole is—the fried onions just don't add enough crunch—but bake it inside a pie crust that's had fried shallots worked into the dough, and you've got a side dish worthy of an all-pie Thanksgiving.

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The turkey was obviously the most logically delicious. Everyone's had chicken pot pie, right? It was like a great turkey pot pie baked with a layer of cranberries on the bottom (a smart touch) to add a little tang and juice. A turkey pie's not as visually show-stopping as a whole roast turkey, but your guests will eat their words once they taste it.

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The stuffing with sausage pie was another winner. Stuffing is naturally pretty filling-like, wouldn't you say?

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Even the mashed potato pie (baked with little wells of gravy built-in), the most controversial, tasted like a really good potato knish. Kenji learned the hard way that mashed potatoes puff up in the oven causing your pie to explode (next time, he says he won't fill the pie up quite so much) which may have colored his opinion of the finished product. He didn't much care for it, but then again, is he a knish knoisseur? The potatoes were well-seasoned, which they aren't in most knishes.

There's a New York Times editorial from 1902 (I found it on the Hoosier Mama website) that should be read aloud before any table sits down to an all-pie feast. Here goes:

"It is utterly insufficient (to eat pie only twice a week), as anyone who knows the secret of our strength as a nation and the foundation of our industrial supremacy must admit. Pie is the American synonym of prosperity, and its varying contents the calendar of the changing seasons. Pie is the food of the heroic. No pie-eating people can ever be permanently vanquished."

Amen to that.

Video: Our All-Pie Thanksgiving on Today.com

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