By Bob Groeneveld
I just wanted to brown the tourtiere.
The interior of the meat pie was done to perfection, but the top shell still looked a little pale, a little bit pasty, and I wanted the dish to look as good as I knew it was going to taste.
I knew the tourtiere was going to taste great because I make them every December.
In addition to the ones we consume as part of our post-Christmas tradition, I usually make a half dozen or so spares that go into the freezer raw so we can pull them out, toss them in the oven, and enjoy them without fuss any time the mood takes us as the New Year unfolds.
And this one was just another member of a batch that had turned out especially well this year, so there was no question that it was going to taste incredible.
But when my tourtieres are baked from frozen they don’t seem to turn out looking quite as perfectly as the original that went fresh into the oven. Something about my tourtiere pastry interferes with the browning process after it’s been frozen.
The pastry doesn’t come out raw… it just doesn’t come out of the oven with a delicious-looking golden brown dusting the bumps and ridges. It comes out a well-cooked but creamy white.
Here I was, looking at a piping hot tourtiere through the window in the oven, knowing that it was going to be delicious… but it just didn’t look as spectacular as it should.
That’s when I had an idea.
Donna always says that when I have an idea, I should stop and think about it for a moment – or even a day or two – before I act on it. Unlike my tourtieres, she says, my ideas are not always perfect.
But I didn’t have a day or two – or even a moment. The moment was now.
I turned on the broiler for a carefully calculated blast of browning heat.
I figured no more than five minutes would be necessary for the broiler element to suggest that the butter and flour react with each other to offer up the deep golden tones that I knew they had hidden inside them.
But just in case – and to be honest, so that I could witness the miracle of my genius unfold – I was glued to the movie screen that my oven window had become in my mind’s eye.
To my horror, I discovered that I was watching the wrong show!
Instead of gently kissing the peaks and ridges to coax out their darker tones, the broiler element seemed at first to do nothing at all… and then unleashed a dragon’s breath that instantly turned the creamy white expanse of my tourtiere crust into a wasteland of blackened scabs and smoking craters.
The transformation was so swift, that by the time I opened the oven door, I could barely see through the smoke to locate tonight’s dinner, and the smoke detectors throughout the house broke into an instant chorus insinuating my stupidity.
All I wanted to do was just brown the damn tourtiere.
In a past life, Bob Groeneveld was editor of the Langley Advance and the Maple Ridge Times. Now he writes when and what he feels like. He has been sharing his Odd Thoughts with readers for more than 40 years. Visit with him on Facebook.