Recipe for U2’s American Pie: Eating U2’s America — A Cook-Along Presentation & Conversation

Please join Chef Gary Stevenson of Theo’s Feast for a live cook-along event as part of the U2 Conference 2020. His American Pie session is Saturday, Oct. 24, 3:30 – 5:00 pm EST.

Ingredients and recipe are below, so you can shop ahead of time and prepare to cook with Chef Gary.

Over here, Chef Gary writes about his inspiration for this dish.

Nothing says America like Apple Pie and Fried Chicken. Combining those two classic American dishes would be all you would need to capture the culinary soul of America. But just like U2’s music, there is much more to this dish than meets the eye. Inside it’s America.

This recipe is simple to make. Don’t let the long list of ingredients or steps intimidate you. It can be done in 90 minutes if you prepare well by having your ingredients premeasured, peeled and chopped prior to our workshop time.

It would be a lot easier if you were to pre-make your pie dough and have it in the fridge the day before our event. (Or, cheat a little bit and use a pre-made pie dough.)

U2 Conference American Pie Recipe

Drunk Chicken Brine: Make 1 day ahead.
Optional but highly recommended. 

12 chicken legs. (fresh / thawed)
⅔ cup of bourbon
2 tablespoons of salt
¼ cup brown sugar
2 Tablespoons chili powder
½ teaspoon Cayenne pepper
3 bay leaves
6 peppercorns or freshly cracked pepper
1 litre of apple juice (about 4 cups)

Mix all but the chicken in a pot. Bring ingredients to a simmer. Let cool to room temperature.

Place the chicken in a plastic container or zip lock back. Cover with the brine and refrigerate overnight.

Fried Chicken Batter

Wet ingredients bowl:
1 cup buttermilk or milk with 1 teaspoon of apple cider vinegar
1 egg, whisked
Salt & Pepper to taste
Mix well in a bowl just prior to frying

Batter Bowl:
1 cup all purpose flour
½ tsp cayenne pepper
2 tsp chili powder
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp mustard powder
1 tsp dried basil
1 tsp celery salt
1 tsp white pepper
1 tsp black pepper
2 tsp poultry seasoning
1 tablespoon black sesame seeds

This is a great spice blend for fried chicken batter. Feel free to improvise and use the spices you have on hand.

Battering the Chicken:
Remove the chicken from the brine and place on a drying rack and let air dry for a few minutes. Discard the brine.

Using 2 bowls, one for the wet, one for the dry. Mix the above ingredients in 2 separate bowls.

Dip your chicken in the seasoned flour. Then dip in the egg and milk mixture. Then dip a second time in the seasoned flour.

Frying the Chicken:
Fry the chicken according to your deep fryer instructions. Or simply fill a pan or pot with enough oil to cover the chicken legs lying flat (4 – 6 pending on the size of your pot/pan.)

Using a frying thermometer, bring the oil up to 350 F

Carefully fry you chicken until it reaches an internal temperature of 160F

Using a pastry brush, baste the chicken with the Bourbon sauce (recipe below) when it’s still hot.

Baking the Chicken:
Frying is preferred for authenticity. However you can achieve good results by baking the chicken if you baste the chicken while baking. Set your oven temperature to 375F. Spray the battered chicken with a vegetable oil based cooking spray such as Pam. 

Place battered chicken on a wire rack and sheet pan so the hot air can get to all sides of the chicken. Turn on the convection setting of your oven if you have the option.

Bake the chicken in the oven for 30 minutes or until it reaches an internal temperature of 160F using a probe thermometer. Baste the chicken with the Bourbon butter sauce after 15 minutes and then again at 25 minutes.

Remove the chicken from the oven and baste it again while hot.

Honey Bourbon Glaze:
½ cup honey
2 tablespoons of bourbon
¼ cup of butter
1 teaspoon Cayenne pepper
2 tablespoons of chili powder
Fresh cracked pepper to taste
Pastry brush for basting

Add all ingredients to a small saucepan and bring to a simmer. Then take off the heat and baste it over your hot chicken legs. Don’t be surprised if the bourbon ignites and burns off as a flambe. The flames will go out once the alcohol has burned off. You can just cover it with a lid if needed.

Pie Dough
Makes 2 – 13” pie crusts enough for a top & bottom of one pie

1 cup or 2 sticks/200g of cold salted butter cut into dice sized cubes
1 medium to large egg – whisked
1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar or white vinegar
4 ounces of carbonated water or ice-cold tap water with a pinch of cream of tartar
1 teaspoon of sugar

In a mixing bowl or stand mixer bowl, add your flour and sugar. Mix in the cold cubed butter on low until butter is incorporated. It will look like a mix of flour with small clumps of butter.

Whisk your egg in a measuring cup, add 1 tablespoon of Apple Cider vinegar and then top it with cold carbonated water to measure 135 ml or 4.5 ounces.

With your mixer on low, mix in the water and egg into the butter and flour until it starts to form a ball. Turn off your mixer and move the dough to a flour dusted cutting board or counter top.

Gently knead the dough forming one large ball of dough. Then cut the large ball in half. Wrap it up in plastic wrap or a cover bowl and place in the fridge until you are ready to make the pie.

Rolling the Pie Dough
Pie dough works best when it’s cold. Working in 2 batches, prepare your pie crust base by rolling it out using a rolling pin on a floured cutting board or counter top. Flour your rolling pin on board regularly so the dough does not stick. Roll it out to ⅛  or 3mm thick. Gently roll it onto your rolling pin and then place it over your pie plate. Gently tuck it unto the pie plate, leaving access to hang over the sides. Cover with plastic wrap, and place in the fridge until you are ready to fill your pie.

Decorating the Top Crust
If you keep the pie dough cold it is easy to cut a variety of shapes using cookie cutters or a paring knife. 

Roll out your dough using a well floured rolling pin and cutting board to ⅛ or 3 mm thick.

Use a round plate that is the same size or slightly larger than your pie plate as a template.

Cut out the rolled dough to size. Then cut 2 circles round the rolled dough around the circumference of the plate. We will use this to form our twisted striped border.

The finished pie with the egg wash ready for the oven.

Cut out your stars using a small star cookie cutter or paring knife. It’s very important to keep the dough cold. If you are in a warm kitchen or climate you may need to pop the dough into the fridge a few times as you cut out your stars. For this reason you might want to prep your pie dough on a cutting board that you can wrap and put in the fridge easily.

Once you have the desired design, cut into your pie crust and gently place over the filled pie. The recipes for the pie filling is below.

For the stripes: Simply twist the outer ⅛ cut lines from the circumference of the plate in two halves. 

Using a pastry brush, baste the top of the pie with a whisked egg mixed with a splash of milk or water. This will give your pie a nice golden color when baking

Then place it around the top of the pie. Baste the twisted stripes well. Then arrange your stars, basting them with the egg wash also.

Bake the pie for 25 – 30 minutes until golden brown. Place your pie on the bottom rack of your oven. Start at 400F for 10 minutes then reduce the heat to 350 F for the remaining 20 minutes.

This will help bake the bottom of the pie without over cooking or drying out the top. If the top is getting too brown you can cover it with tinfoil.

Top the pie with the fried chicken. Serve a slice of pie, with a piece of chicken on top, spoon over bourbon butter sauce.

American Pie Filling
We will make this in 3 layers: Apple, Mulligan Stew, and Sweet Potato

1. Apple Filling
3 Granny smith apples, cored, peeled & sliced
1 Asian Pear, cored peeled and sliced
½ knob of fresh ginger, peeled and finely chopped
¼ cup chopped fennel bulb
¼ cup chopped onion
1/2 teaspoon Harrisa spice
1 teaspoon ground Cinnamon
¼ stick of butter
1 Tablespoon of cornstarch
½ cup apple juice or white wine
1 teaspoon Chinese 5 spice

Saute the fennel and onion in the butter until they are translucent but not browned. Add the ginger and cook for one minute. Add the sliced apples, pear and spices. Mix the cornstarch with the apple juice or white wine, pour over the fruit. Cook on medium heat until the apple juice or wine has reduced or absorbed into the apples. Remove from the heat and place in a bowl to cool.

2. Mulligan Stew
400 grams Italian Sausage. Outer cases removed
1 medium carrot, peeled and diced
1 small onion, peeled and diced
1 celery stalk, washed and diced
1 medium potato, peeled and diced
1 Everything Bagel, chopped
1 pat of butter and or a teaspoon of cooking oil
½ cup chicken stock, or apple juice
Salt & pepper to taste
1 pinch of dried thyme

Remove casing from sausage and chop the sausage. Prepare vegetables so they are all the same size, approximately ⅜ “ cubes, for even cooking. Heat oil and butter in a saute pan over medium heat. Add onion, cook for 2 minutes, add sausage, brown for 1 – 2 minutes, then add remaining vegetables and seasoning. Cook for about 5 min. Add chopped Everything bagel and ½ cup chicken stock. Simmer until potatoes are cooked through and the pan is dry.

Remove from heat and place in a bowl to cool.

3. Steamed Sweet Potato
2 medium sized sweet potatoes or yams. Peeled and chopped.
¼ stick of butter
1 tsp tarragon and or basil
1 tsp Chili powder
1 tsp cinnamon
½ tsp cayenne pepper
Salt & pepper to taste

Using a steamer, Steam the sweet potatoes until tender. Remove from heat and mash with a hand mixer or potato masher, season with butter, herbs & spices. Let cool. 

Assembling the Pie

  1. Place pie crust in the bottom of the pie
  2. Spoon in apple layer ⅓ of the height of your pan
  3. Cover apple layer with corn tortilla
  4. Spoon in a layer of Mulligan stew
  5. Cover mulligan stew with the mashed Sweet Potato.
  6. Sprinkle over mixed nuts pressing them into the sweet potatoes with the back of a spoon.
  7. Cover with the pie crust, pinching the sides together.
  8. Baste the pie with egg wash so it browns nicely
  9. Place your stars. Don’t forget to brush them with your egg wash as well
  10. Place the pie on the bottom rack of a preheated oven at 400 F.  Bake the pie at 400F for 10 minutes then turn it down to 350 F for the remaining 20 min. This will allow the bottom of your pie crust to bake properly. Cover over the top of the pie crust with tinfoil if it’s browning too quickly.

While the pie is in the oven fry or bake your chicken.

Serve warm with the Bourbon basted chicken on top of the pie. Be sure to reserve some of the basting liquid to pour over your pie when serving.

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