The One With the Worst Pie Ever

If there is any specific time of the year that brings all of the not-a-chef individuals out of the pantry, it’s Thanksgiving. One of the sacred holidays most centered on food and trying to please the taste buds of each and every family member or friend attending dinner. It doesn’t matter if you are a seasoned chef, or run of the mill Aunt Sue that has never picked up a spatula in her life; something will go wrong.

Take Rachel, for example. From Friends. Sure, she never cooks, but she’ll be damned if she doesn’t produce a dish worthy of gracing the table for the feast of all meals. All that is required is a quick scan through a cookbook to find something appetizing, and ta-da… dessert! Wanting to produce something not only appetizing to the pallet, but aesthetically pleasing as well, the obvious choice was to opt for a traditional English trifle. Layers of ingredients in a clear glass display. Rachel smiled to herself. How hard could it be?

Fortunately for her, the kitchen is already fully stocked by a culinary-skilled roommate and a trip to the grocery store is not necessary. Hard part avoided.

There was bound to be nothing to this. Everything was clearly written in black and white right in front of her. Step one: Pour 10 ounces of heavy cream into a saucepan; heat it up slowly. DONE, after a quick process of elimination as to what the hell a saucepan was. Beat your three egg yolks (plus a couple small pieces of shell that may or may not have been too much of a bother to fish out) together with three tablespoons of white granulated sugar. Slowly add the warm cream to the sugary egg concoction. Boom, you’ve made some custard. Grab a spoon to sample the perfection that was just crafted, then throw it in the fridge to chill.

Heat up a clean pan and start sautéing 1.5 lbs ground beef with ½ cup peas and 1 cup small chopped onion. Were the onion pieces chopped uniformly? Of course not, but they’ll be covered up anyway. There’s no stopping now! Rachel was in a groove, and this was going to be the best thing to ever hit the lips of anyone lucky enough to grab a slice. After shuffling the beef around for roughly 10 minutes, the meat was no longer pink. Smoke wasn’t billowing from the pan yet, so she took that as a hint it was finished cooking.


Perfect, Rachel is moving along now.

Assembly was up next, and that had to be one of the easiest parts. Flipping back and forth from the ingredients list to the instructions, one by one layers start to get added into the trifle dish. Rachel opens the package and carefully spreads a bed of ladyfingers.  Next the entire ¾ cup raspberry jam is semi-haphazardly spooned on top. Half of the homemade custard is poured in to cover the jam. (If you were wondering, Rachel planned on telling anyone that asked — or didn’t —  that the custard was made from scratch.) She tosses in a 12 oz carton of raspberries next, watching them sink into the filling as if it were a mattress made of creamy goodness specifically for them. Had she remembered to rinse the berries off first? Eh, not important. A half-broken cookie must be sampled first to make sure it is up to her standards before adding another coat of ladyfingers. This should use up the remainder of the package.  

Grabbing a fresh utensil and the pan still warm from the stovetop, the entire beef and veggie mixture is spooned onto the dessert. The rest of the custard can now be cascaded from above until the saucepan is empty and added to the top of the dirty dish pile that is now surely about to spill out of the sink.

The dish was looking good enough to put into a magazine. The stark contrast of the custard with the red berries and brown meat was going to knock the socks off of everyone. Any imperfections on the top were quickly covered by throwing down a layer of two sliced bananas and dousing it all in a heaping of whipped cream.

There it sat on the table. Rachel had been entrusted to make the dessert this year, and damn was she going to deliver. She stood there admiring the trifle as if it were a work of art. Hell, it involved custard… MADE FROM SCRATCH. It was bound to taste wonderful.* Maybe, just maybe, this would be the one meal where nothing would go wrong.

Recipe List:

1 ½ lb of ground beef: $1.79 per lb

1 7-oz package of ladyfingers: $4.99

¾ cup raspberry jam: $4.80 per 16-oz Jar

10 oz heavy cream: $3.24

3 egg yolks: $1.59 for a dozen

12 oz raspberries: $4.78

½ cup peas: $.79 for a 14oz can

3 tbsp white sugar: $5.19 for a 10-lb bag

1 cup small onion: $1.29 for a 3-lb bag

2 sliced bananas: $.56/lb

6 oz whipped cream: $3.88 for a 13-oz canister

1 bottle of Tums: $3.97 for a 72-count container

Total cost to make a traditional English Shepherd’s Trifle: $37.77

Cooking a complete and total dumpster-fire dessert that still managed to enthrall Joey: Priceless

read: “like feet.”

Alexandra Elzein currently lives in Kansas City with her husband and dogther. She would not hesitate to try this sweet and savory combo if given the opportunity.

Photo credit: Friends screenshot.

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