Tonight I made Saquon Barkley Pie … and I beseech the Lord (and my stomach, and Saquon Barkley) to forgive me.
My family are the sorts who make pie for both dinner and dessert on Pi Day (March 14), just because an excuse for pie is always welcome. This year we had firm plans for dessert (I claimed a lemon chiffon pie recipe, which is chilling in the fridge as I type) but no great ideas for dinner.
My younger son, en route to another room, mentioned that the Lehigh Valley celebrated Saquon Barkley Day at around this time of year … so why not a Saquon Barkley Pie?
(Some background for those not familiar: Saquon Barkley is a star running back for the New York Football Giants. He grew up in the next little town over from where we used to live in Pennsylvania. He graduated from the same high school my older son graduated from, and the same school my younger son would have graduated from had I not dragged him off to Boston like James at 15. Barkley’s hometown of Coplay, Pa., held a Saquon Barkley Day in his honor not tremendously long before we moved out. We didn’t go but we could hear it from a distance. It was a shindig and a half. Anyway.)
My son, having dropped the idea of Saquon Barkley Pie on me, decamped elsewhere without sharing any notions of what such a pie might contain.
I don’t have any firsthand knowledge of what Mr. Barkley eats. Being a top-class pro athlete, he probably subsists on protein shakes and grilled salmon.
Instead, I began to picture a pie that would combine classic, familiar eastern Pennsylvania ingredients. Not something Saquon Barkley has necessarily ever eaten (in fact, I kinda hope not), but something all those people who went to Saquon Barkley Day might have eaten when they got home.
And I came up with this:
A variation on shepherd’s pie in which the bottom portion is greasy, melty Pennsylvania-style cheesesteak meat — enlivened with a few chopped green peppers — and the top layer is potato-and-cheese pierogi filling.
It’s OK if you stop reading now…
Potatoes waiting to do their duty.
I did not skimp on funky plastic disgusting American cheese slices, which were thrown into the skillet to heat up along with the meat. A full box of frozen cheesesteak meat went into this. Yup.
The meat, cheese and peppers have been cooked, and now I am spreading the potato mixture across the top of the pie pan.
The white specks in the pierogi filling are feta cheese; I threw a little bit of every cheese I had in the fridge into the potato mix, for all the flavor I could muster.
Plated, wit’ salad.
I am pleased to report that the pie, in its own weird disgusting way, was very much a success. The cheesesteak half worked as cheesesteak filling — hot, salty, greasy, ethically questionable. The potato topping was passable pierogi filling — tasty, not too heavy, hinting at additional flavor but not overwhelmed by it.
Most importantly, the two halves were well-proportioned. My younger son, who knew of my grand scheme in advance, said he feared the pie would turn out to be a big pile of mashed potatoes with an occasional strip of cheesesteak. This did not happen; neither main ingredient dominated the other.
So, there you go. Saquon Barkley Pie for Pi Day. I can just about see the streets of Whitehall and Coplay in my mind as I sit back and wait for my dinner to digest.
Mmmm, dirty dishes!