Eat This, McDonald’s
My husband and I have been reading Fast Food Nation by Eric Schlosser, which, for those of you have not heard about it, breaks down the evils of fast food generally, and McDonald’s specifically, point by saturated point . Each chapter is more disturbing than the last, from factory farms to exploited workers’ rights on down the digestive tract to e. coli tainted meat. Ugh.
But among all this, what really knitted my eyebrows was the role of the self-titled “flavorists” in the McManufacturing process. These chemists are responsible for nothing less than making that flash-frozen, shipped, thawed, deep-fried potato stick taste (well, smell, actually) like a McDonald’s French fry. These highly educated men and women have managed to create something so deceptive that the author, upon smelling a slip of paper laced with these chemicals, had to open his eyes to make sure there was no one in the room actually grilling a burger. Yet the only shout-out these alchemists receive (at least publicly) is a mention of natural (that’s right, natural) or artificial flavors at the end of a very long list of Mcgredients.
And therefore, as I explained to an understandingly confused friend, it was a compliment for my husband to say that my apple tarts tasted “as good as McDonald’s apple pies.” And no pHd in taste-manipulation required. Here’s the recipe so that you too can feel like a “flavorist.”
Apple Chutney Tarts
Makes about 12 dozen tarts
For the filling (adapted from the Moosewood Cookbook):
3 cups or more chopped tart apples*
1 T fresh minced ginger, or 1 t ground ginger
1 t cinnamon
1 t cloves or allspice
1/2 c. packed brown sugar
1/3 c. cider vinegar
Place all ingredients in a medium saucepan and simmer until soft and dark brown, at least 20 minutes.
*The more apples you use, the less intensely spiced the flavor of the chutney will be. I recommend adding more apples if you plan on eating the chutney by itself and not making into tarts.
For the pastry dough:
(Any pie crust recipe will do, but this one is super-easy.)
1 1/2 c. flour
6 T cold butter, cut into small pieces
Mix the flour and butter using a pastry cutter or two knives. Add water a tablespoon at a time until the dough holds together. I often mix the dough by hand when adding the water. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.
Roll out dough. Cut into 4-to-5-inch squares. Put a heaping teaspoon of chutney in the center of each square, then bring the corners together. Pinch the seams of the dough to close.
Bake until the edges brown and filling is bubbling, about 25 minutes.