Wednesday, September 29, 2010

How About That Pecan Pie!

Have you ever entered a pie-making contest? When the pecan pie that I made was voted “best” at work, I was surprised because so many good cooks had entered with their favorites. How did I win? Creating a winning pie is just like playing baseball – avoid three strikes and you should find yourself in position to score. Making a pie itself is easy. The critical steps (all potential strikes) are deciding that you want to win, keeping the recipe simple, and showing up early.

First, decide if you really want to compete or only participate. When the contest was announced, I knew that I wanted to participate – if only to taste all the other entries. However, if I was going to complete all the effort for the contest, I wanted to do more than just participate. Because I had to make a “winning” pie, determining which pie to make was easy. Skip the fluffy and creamy ones. Pick a traditional sweet pie that evokes memories of good times with families, particularly at holidays, such as a pecan pie that is very traditional at Thanksgiving and Christmas, and you are guaranteed to receive a lot of votes.

Next, keep it simple – advice that works for almost every situation. For pie-making, use a proven recipe. To make a pie from scratch, according to Carl Sagan, the American astronomer, “you must first create the universe.” Not feeling like a scientist the night before the contest, I knew that I didn’t want to create a complicated concoction with many ingredients that would compete for attention. Just focus on the basics: sugar and butter. With a pecan pie, the lightly browned pecans on top catch everyone’s eye, and the gooey base sweetened with the right amount of corn syrup guarantees to produce a captivating taste and texture.

Finally, bring the pie early to the contest and insist that everyone take a small taste (even before the contest begins). The first impression scores high, and then the other arrivals are compared to yours. When you bring a pie to a contest, don’t be bashful. Jump right in and take a bite with everyone else and then begin to sample all the other entries. Don’t be a late entry, and never show up as the last entry when all the participants have made up their minds about which entry is the best.

Being ready for a contest also requires more preparation than just making a pie. Show up hungry. You don’t want to be tasting pies on a full stomach, and once you find one or two pies that you like, you might even want to take an extra piece and skip the next meal. In fact, at the next meal, start right. Because food contests prove that pies are our best menu choice, follow the advice of American writer Ernestine Ulmer: “Life is uncertain. Eat dessert first.”

For those who want the recipe:Recipe: The pecan pie recipe that I used is by Mama Dip (she has made it on ABC’s program Good Morning, America) – and it’s simple:
1 stick butter (or margarine)
1 cup sugar
1 cup light Karo syrup
3 eggs beaten
1 cup chopped pecans
1 unbaked 9” pie shell
Directions: Preheat over to 350 degrees. In a sauce pan, melt the butter but don’t let it brown. Mix in sugar and corn syrup and cook stirring over medium heat until sugar dissolves. Stir in eggs. Mix well. Stir in pecans. Pour into the pie and bake for 1 hour until firm. Serves 8.

P.S. Oh, yes, after you win the contest, enjoy wearing your crown.

No comments:

Post a Comment