Dear Ms. Paula Deen,
My roommate, Maria, and I (pictured below) have wanted to write you for a long time now to thank you for being such a happy force in our lives. As graduate students, we're too often over-worked, almost always under-paid, and constantly surviving on far too little sleep, but whenever we hear your cheerful voice come through the television and see your love of life and your healthy appreciation for cream and butter, we can't help but smile along.
|Me + Maria, in Shanghai, China, June 2008|
To thank you for inspiring us to take time and appreciate the yummy things in life, Maria and I decided to make you a tribute pie in celebration of Pi Day 2011. We wanted to do something that we thought you would appreciate the most, so this is what we came up with: a macaroni and cheese pie. And not just any ol' mac'n'cheese pie! We made sure to pack it full of cheesy and delicious goodness, from the homemade spicy cheddar cheese crust to the deep-fried mac'n'cheese balls buried inside the mac'n'cheese pie filling. (Yes, that's double the mac'n'cheese.) To top it off, Maria came up with the brilliant idea of making a lattice-top with bacon, which was so smart on her part because the bacon flavor seeped down into the mac'n'cheese, making it even awesome-er. Finally, we made sure to serve it with maple syrup and hot sauce, because we had to have the sweet and savory combination there. Seriously, Paula, this is probably one of the best pies I've ever made, and everyone at our school's Pi Day event loved it.
Oh-- and we named it the "Pie-la Deen." :-)
So I hope you enjoy our little token of thanks for helping make our lives brighter and buttery-er. If you're ever in the Bay Area, you are always welcome to drop by here, and we'll make sure to whip up some Pie-la Deen for you!
Stephanie (and Maria)
Read on for recipe...
Epic Mac'n'cheese Pie-la Deen
makes one 9" deep pie or 10" regular pie
2 cups flour
1/4 tspn salt
6 oz. extra sharp cheddar cheese, coarsely grated
2/3 cup butter, cold and cut into cubes
1 Tbspn tabasco sauce
5 Tbspn ice water
1. Combine the flour and salt in a bowl.
2. Using a pastry cutter, cut in the grated cheddar cheese and cold butter into the flour until the size of small peas.
3. Gradually add the tabasco sauce and the ice water one tablespoon at a time until, when you press the dough between your fingers, it holds together. Do not overmix!
4. Wrap the dough in parchment paper or plastic wrap and chill for at least 1 hour.
5. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.
6. Remove the dough from the refrigerator roll it out, about 1/8" thick. Place the dough into the pie plate and crimp the edge. Using a fork, pierce the bottom of the crust several times.
7. If the dough has become soft from rolling, place the prepared pie plate in the freezer for about 5-10 minutes.
9. Line the inside of the pie crust with parchment paper and fill with pie weights or dry beans.
10. Bake for 15-17 minutes, then remove from oven. Remove the beans and parchment paper and line the edge of the pie crust with foil. Return to the oven for 5-7 more minutes until the crust is golden. Remove. Keep the oven on.
for filling and topping:
seven deep-fried mac'n'cheese balls
11. Spread a layer of mac'n'cheese at the bottom of the pie. Top with the seven deep-fried mac'n'cheese balls and fill the pie with the remaining mac'n'cheese.
12. Create a lattice top with bacon, making sure to cut the bacon strips long, since they will shrink in the oven.
13. Return to the 425 degree oven for about 8-10 minutes until the bacon is cooked. Remove.
14. Serve with hot sauce and maple syrup.
*To make your own mac'n'cheese, use this recipe, without the lobster.