TWICE AS GOOD
STEVE CUMPER MARRIES TWO BELOVED DISHES TO CREATE A PIE WITH ENDURING APPEAL.
Steve Cumper’s delicious take on the classic combination of bacon and eggs.
THE FRY-UP HAS BEEN PART of my morning ritual for most of my life. From the age of about 12, my dad and I would rise early to practice the monotony of lap swimming at the Harold Holt Memorial Swimming Centre, which was so named in the age before irony. Then we’d come home and promptly dismantle all of our good work with every shovelful of bacon, egg and toast steeped in butter. Along with my enduring fondness for a cooked brekkie, readers of this column may remember that I also have a great appetite for pies and even keep a bottle of tomato sauce in the glove box of my ute (those sauce sachets are too meager). So I’d like to express my eternal gratitude to the genius who wed two of my favourite things to eat: the pie, and bacon and eggs. Trying to recall the fifirst time I experienced this union filled me with nostalgia. It was way back when the patisserie was still called the bakery, the Holden Sunbird was the car to drive, and the “It’s cold as ice!” jingle for 4711 Ice Cologne filled our lounge rooms. This was the golden age of the bacon and egg pie. The trick was to arrive at the bakery early, when the pies had just come out of the oven and were still soft and yielding. As my fellow pie lovers will know, a pie bought at the end of the business day is a purchase made of desperation, as the pastry has hardened into an unforgiving biscuity shell containing pitiless egg and leathery bacon. Like all classic dishes, there is some contention about what makes an authentic bacon and egg pie. For instance, should the pie have a pastry lid or not? Should the egg be hard-boiled before it’s added to the pie, or cracked in raw just prior to baking. And, perhaps most contentiously, should the bacon be precooked? Grandma Alvina, whose kitchen prowess I have acknowledged before, was known for her family-sized, deep-dish bacon and egg pie, which made regular appearances at Cumper gatherings. Eager to forge a culinary identity within the family, my mum decided to create her own version with a pastry lid. In an attempt to bolster the lid and prevent it sagging in the middle, she placed an upside-down eggcup in the centre of the filling. Even though I was quite young, I registered the agitation Mum felt when Grandma Alvina raised an eyebrow in displeasure as the eggcup was revealed. “That’s cheating,” she said. Those two words sparked a lifetime of tension between Mum and Alvina. Sharing condiments has the power to bring people together. If Mum and Alvina had shared more condiments, they might have found some common ground. I remember that they both enjoyed chutney — perhaps family gatherings would have been less stressful if one of them had made the bacon and egg pie while the other championed the chutney. It’s in this spirit that, along with instructions for making bacon and egg pies, I’m passing on my Reconciliatory Chutney recipe. Please share it around — and feel free to keep a jar in your glove box! Steve Cumper is a chef and funnyman who lives in Tasmania and dreams of one day owning a fleet of holiday vans called Wicked Cumpers.
BACONB & EGG PIES
MakesM 4 2 sheets frozen ready-rolled puff pastry, partially thawed 8 rashers streaky bacon ⅓ cup pure cream 6 eggs 1 tablespoon finely chopped chives RECONCILIATORY CHUTNEY 2 tablespoons olive oil 1 brown onion, peeled, finely diced 2 garlic cloves, peeled, crushed 1 tablespoon ground cumin 8 cloves 3 whole star anise 2 bay leaves 1 cinnamon stick, broken ½ teaspoon dried chilli flakes 1 cup malt vinegar 1 cup brown sugar ½ cup sultanas 3 x 400g cans crushed tomatoes
To make chutney, heat oil in a large saucepan over a medium heat. Cook onion for 8 minutes or until light golden. Add garlic, cumin, cloves, star anise, bay leaves, cinnamon and chilli. Cook for 2 minutes or until aromatic. Add vinegar, sugar and sultanas, and stir until sugar dissolves. Bring to boil. Add tomatoes and 1 cup water, and return to boil. Simmer, stirring occasionally, for 1½ hours or until thick and glossy. Season. Ladle hot chutney among four 1-cup capacity sterilised jars and seal. Preheat oven to 200°C. Grease four 1-cup capacity pie tins. Line tins with pastry and trim excess. Prick bases of pastry cases with a fork. Place tins on a baking tray in freezer for 10 minutes. Line pastry cases with baking paper and fill with pastry weights. Bake for 10 minutes. Remove paper and weights. Bake for 10 minutes or until golden. Cool. Reduce oven temperature to 170°C. Place bacon on base and around side of each pastry case to form a nest for eggs. Whisk cream and 2 eggs in a jug. Pour into pastry cases. Crack remaining eggs into middle of bacon nests. Bake for 20–25 minutes or until eggs are set. Top with chives and serve with chutney.