MIDDLE AMERICAN (USA) - Cuisine of the Quarter, Summer 2018 (Jul-Sept)

I make a Pampered Chef recipe for Chicken Broccoli Braid that calls for dried dill. Other than that, I make a nice dijon dill potato salad. The dry stuff works for that too, but fresh dill adds that herbiness that the dry doesn’t.

I was watching a re-run of the Great British Baking Show last night and the theme for their showstopper challenge was American pie. I was interested to see what Brits think American pies are, but I got irritated almost immediately when I saw every last contestant making not pie, but a tart! They all used tart pans with vertical sides and removable bottoms, and quite a few used a pâte sucrée or another press-in, short dough rather than a rolled flaky pastry. Since they all used tart pans, there was also no crimping, no creative top lattice work, no double crust or streusel topped variants, etc.

It’s entirely possible that the contestants used tart pans because they were required to present the dessert out of the tin, but why even do American pie as a challenge if that is required? To me, American pie is defined by a flaky pastry (or a Graham cracker/cookie crust, I suppose, but I’m sure that wouldn’t have qualified as baking on GBBS!) first and foremost, and second by its unique shape and baking vessel (and the fact that it is served IN the pan!).

Paul and Mary said little about the American-ness (or lack thereof) of their creations - it made me wonder if they have ever been to an American home for dessert! Am I being too rigid in my definition of what an American pie is? What defines “American” pie for you?


Not too rigid at all. Generations of American home cooks would say the same, I’ll
wager. Say “American pie” and l’ll bet that those of us who grew up eating it expect the dessert to be defined by the rolled crust and use of a pie plate or tin (metal) or pie dish (tempered glass or ceramic) from which it’s served.

Pie is something that’s been made in home kitchens with ingredients at hand. The trick is mostly in that crust, which let’s face it, more often than not falls short of the ideal (mine definitely included). But it’s pie so we forgive. And we eat!

For example, I make blueberry crostata in the summer with exactly the same ingredients as blueberry pie. But if my grandmother wouldn’t call it pie, well, it’s not pie to me. (Also, blueberries are in season so it’s pie and/or crostata time. Yay.)

A pie can be “an American pie” without being “American pie” — I’m looking at you, graham cracker crusts. I’d say the iconic thing has to have the flaky crust.

Did I mention that everything is better with pie?

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AGREED! For me it’s the flaky crust AND the shape. too frequently make crostata with pie dough as the crust, but since it’s not in a pie plate (and there’s no crimping, fluting or lattice work), it’s not pie!

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Interesting - I had no idea! I’m not a fan of ranch dressing so I have never bothered to look at the list of ingredients. I do occasionally make a very 80s-retro and Midwestern recipe of my mother’s that calls for Hidden Valley ranch packets, though - she called it vegetable pizza. It’s a blind baked crescent roll base topped with a mixture of mayo, cream cheese and ranch packets, then sprinkled with coarsely ground (in the food processor) raw carrots, broccoli and cauliflower, and finally topped with shredded cheddar. Serve cold. Soooooooooo very 80s, but delicious!


The Brits call anything with a crust a “pie.” For example, a pâté de campagne is a pork pie.

Right, I’m used to that interpretation for British baked goods, but if the challenge is specifically AMERICAN pie, make an American pie!


I agree. But if you think you own a word, you don’t get caught up in details.

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True enough, LOL. A bit off-topic, yet still related to baked goods: Several years back when checking into a hotel in Dublin on the 4th of July, we were greeted with “Brooklyn brownies” and the recipe for same. I don’t know what’s particularly Brooklyn-ish about brownies but apparently both were considered emblematic of America by the hotel staff.

A charming gesture which did involve a genuine American-style baked good. :grinning:


No, it isn’t.

A pate de campagne is entirely different in cooking method and ingredients to a pork pie. And the meat part of the finished product are very different

Entirely different?

No, we don’t.

To we Britons, a pie has pastry completely surrounding the filling - top, bottom and side. A concoction that has pastry only on its bottom and side is a tart. And a concoction that has a filling simply topped with pastry is, erm, a filling with pastry on top. There are exceptions - the fish/cottage/shepherd’s pie for example, where there’s a topping of mashed potato. And, no, I’ve no idea how it comes to be a called a pie when it clearly isnt one.

Well, that was biondanonima’s point. An American pie is usually entirely surrounded by crust, although there are exceptions, and the Great British Baking Show was preparing tarts and calling them American pies

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The pate de campagne that I usually make for Xmas - https://www.deliaonline.com/recipes/international/european/french/coarse-country-pate

And, from the same source, a pork pie recipe (which I’ve never made as I reckon it’s nigh impossible to beat a bought one from one of the Melton Mowbray producers) - https://www.deliaonline.com/recipes/type-of-dish/picnic-recipes/old-fashioned-raised-pork-pies

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I read bio’s comment as being in agreement with your statement - which was just factually incorrect on all counts.

I was agreeing to the statement that Brits call anything with a crust “pie,” but my experience of British baking terminology is largely limited to what I hear on GBBS! :smile: Thank you for setting us straight!

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It’s BBQ Sunday! When I was growing up in Michigan, “barbecue” was used to describe basically any food cooked outdoors and/or with “barbecue sauce” (the red, thick, sweet, smoky sauce you get when you order BBQ sauce with your Chicken McNuggets) on it. My mother frequently made BBQ chicken, which was actually grilled chicken basted with BBQ sauce, or BBQ ribs, which she usually made by oven-braising country style ribs in BBQ sauce and then finishing them on the grill. When someone invited you to a “barbecue,” this meant they would be cooking the food outside, on a grill - “cookout” was a commonly-used synonym - but you would have to ask what type of meat would be served if you wanted to know (could be anything from burgers and dogs to chicken or pork, all with or without BBQ sauce!). Michigan (like most of the northern “middle” states, to my knowledge) has no regional barbecue tradition of its own, and no one I knew owned a smoker back then. To get smoked “southern” BBQ, you went to a specialty BBQ restaurant, which were rare outside of larger cities.

I didn’t learn about the various regional styles of barbecue in the US until I left the midwest for college - imagine my surprise when I found out that to much of the US, “barbecue” very specifically means SMOKED meat, and that the type of sauce varies by location. I’m sure midwesterners today have much greater exposure to other regional styles given the breadth of information available online and on TV, but there’s still no guarantee you’re getting smoked meat if someone in Michigan invites you to a barbecue. Today I take a purist approach to the word and say barbecue ONLY when I am smoking meat.

Anyway, today I’m barbecuing pork spareribs over a combination of pecan, hickory and cherry. I coated them lightly with Stubb’s Original BBQ sauce (a not-too-sweet, tangy red sauce) to help the rub adhere, then rubbed them with salt, pepper, paprika, sugar, onion, garlic, dry mustard and jalapeno powder. I don’t normally use the sauce for adhesion but I thought I’d try something new today! They’ll get 3-4 hours of smoke at 225 and then continue to cook for another 2-3 hours, until they are fully tender but NOT falling off the bone. I prefer to eat my ribs without sauce, or Memphis-style; DH, having grown up near KC and lived in St. Louis for many years, likes red sauces ranging from sweet and sticky (KC style) to a bit tangier and less sweet (St. Louis style). Stubb’s BBQ sauce, IMO, tastes most like a St. Louis style sauce.

Since the term barbecue is so loosely defined in Michigan, there really are no “set” sides that you would expect to be served at a barbecue or with foods covered in BBQ sauce, although picnic-y sides like potato salad, pasta salad, etc. are common. In Missouri, you’re likely to get coleslaw, baked beans, corn bread and potato salad, which are fairly common throughout the south. I’m breaking with all tradition today and serving whatever vegetable will be quickest to cook and heat up my kitchen least - probably a shaved vegetable salad or maybe sauteed green beans. Don’t tell the purists! :slight_smile:


My mom always made boiled new potatoes with butter and dill too. Love them!


My mother made boiled potatoes with butter and parsley, but dill sounds awesome. Out of curiosity, in what part of the country did your mother grow up (if she is American)?

Try it with fresh dill! Awesome.

We are Canadian growing up just north of North Dakota (so mid-west).

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