Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Cheese"bugar" Pie

Steaming hot Impossible Pie.
Is there any more hilarious pun than the cheeseburger/cheesebugar one? Especially when you’re nine? It’s hard to know if I meant this as a little joke, though, or if I made an honest spelling mistake. (Quick spelling aside: Even without the cheat of spellcheck, I am a fantastic speller these days. I give all the credit to fifth grade teacher Ms. Dee, who, after I got 3/10 on a weekly spelling test, announced to the entire class, “Stefin will be staying inside at recess to work on her spelling.” I never did anything but ace a spelling test after that pitiful Friday when my chums played in the golden autumn sunshine of childhood, and I glared daggers at Ms. Dee under the glow of sickly fluorescent lighting. D-A-G-G-E-R-S. Sometimes public humiliation does work.)

But with that jaunt down memory lane behind us, let’s get down to dinner. Bisquick’s Cheeseburger Pie headlined their “Impossible Pie” category for many a moon. But a quick gander at the Betty Crocker website nearly blew my mind – today, Betty’s Impossible Pie is spanning the globe and attempting to win the more refined palates, too. Tip your hat to a range of “Impossibles:” From Taco to Italian to Bacon and finally, my personal favorite: Seafood. (This last one features crabmeat and pimentos, and I found myself laughing at the idea of that concoction as much as my nine-year-old-self was laughing at bugars.)

The Bisquick mixture tops the ground beef.
Cheeseburger Pie is a cinch to make. Brown your ground beef and onion, dump it into a pan and top with a creamy concoction of milk, eggs and Bisquick. After it’s baked for half-an-hour or so, top with fresh sliced tomatoes and grated Cheddar (or American!) cheese. The beauty of the Impossible Pie is that it makes its own crust – a glorified blender quiche.

This dinner worked when I needed it to: A busy weekend evening. And as the holiday season swings into high gear, it may be just what you’re looking for. But man alive was it bland. Comparing it to today’s version of the recipe, I found an addition that would have helped a lot: Worcestershire sauce. If you’re going to try for the Impossible, I highly suggest you add some seasonings beyond the recommended salt and pepper.

The last tomatoes from my garden met a fitting end.
So while it’s certainly tastier than I imagine true “bugar” pie would be, but it’s not completely delicious, either.  But, much like an ordinary cheeseburger, it provides a launching pad from which to build a great concoction. Try your hand at some variations, and let me know what works.

 Cheese”bugar” Pie

1 pound ground beef
1-1/2 cups chopped onion
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon pepper
1-1/2 cups milk
¾ cup Bisquick baking mix
3 eggs
2 tomatoes, sliced
1 cup shredded Cheddar or process American cheese

This is Cheddar, but I'd prefer American.
Heat oven to 400-degrees. Grease pie plate, 10x1-1/2 inches. Brown beef and onion; drain. Stir in salt and pepper. Spread in plate. Beat milk, baking mix and eggs until smooth, 15 seconds in blender on high or 1 minute with hand beater. Pour into plate. Bake 25 minutes. Top with tomatoes; sprinkle with cheese. Bake until knife inserted in center comes out clean, 5 to 8 minutes. Cool 5 minutes. 6 to 8 servings. High Altitude: Increase first bake time to 30 minutes.

·      I take any opportunity to sing the praises of Velveeta, and I’ll do it again here. I think its gooey, melty consistency would be just the right thing for this dish, actually, contributing to the Big Mac quality you’re shooting for.
·      Fifteen seconds of use is not a good enough reason to drag out your blender, and, more to the point, wash it after you’re done. Use a hand mixer (or fork, in a pinch) and count the one-minute whisk toward your daily aerobic tally!

Could be improved upon ... unlike the joke in the title.
Why Don’t You …
·      Add some chopped sweet or dill pickle?
·      Try caramelizing the onion separate from browning the ground beef? This would add a deeper, more refined flavor. Perfect for something you're going to douse in ketchup.
·      Add other favorite cheeseburger toppings – cooked bacon, avocado, ketchup, mustard. Go crazy. Betty has! (Seriously, check out that Seafood Pie on BettyCrocker.com. I bet you’d rather eat a cheesebugar. HAHA! Still funny!)


  1. Just last night I was telling my 18 year old daughter how she used to love when I'd make this, but I hadn't seen the recipe for years! Thanks for digging this up...I'll add it to her recipe book and make it for her this week.

  2. Yay -- a Time Capsule success story! Thanks for sharing.