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The Food Dude: Jigging for ideas

Jigg's pot pie
Jigg's pot pie

Writing for pleasure remains one of my favourite hobbies and I’ve never been prone to writer’s block, but when it comes to creating new food ideas for restaurants or portfolios, I’m often stymied to find something unique that is still delicious in the real world.

When I do succeed in creating a unique dish, I’m often a little too proud of the effort involved, guarding the ideas as fiercely as a politician guards his tax statements.

In this industry, a unique food idea is often as personal and artistic as an abstract painting or a work of fiction, and we don’t take kindly to having our ideas taken or corrupted by other cooks.

I learned this lesson the hard way (like most of the others, sadly) around this time last year when I discovered one of my creations had miraculously made its way into a fancy restaurant before I even began working there.

I first came up with jigg’s dinner pot pie when I was 19. Like most young men born on the Rock, I was living in Alberta to find my fortune and after three months away, I was uncharacteristically homesick.

When Nan sent a surprise care package from Newfoundland with all the makings of a great jigg’s dinner, it was manna from heaven.

I wasted no time in cooking my very first jigg’s dinner and while it turned out to be a salty, jerry-rigged mess, I enjoyed it more than words can say.

It did leave me with an abundance of leftovers. I decided to work a little creative magic with it. It took all the following day mulling it over on the back burner of my mind until I was abruptly struck by the inspiration stick.

The idea came to me that I could (tentatively) try to turn leftover jigg’s dinner into a pot pie. The result was breathtaking. I had brazenly invented:

Jigg’s Pot Pie

Ingredients:
- Leftover jigg’s dinner with gravy and peas pudding
- Medium or small frozen pie shells (use as needed)
- 1 pinch pepper (in each shell)
- 1 tsp margarine (use as needed)

Directions:
- Melt margarine or butter in a medium pan on medium heat while loosely mashing jigg’s dinner in a large bowl.
- Shred/cut salt meat leftovers into small pieces and add to vegetable mash.
- Stir mash into pan and continue to heat for seven minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Fill pie shells three-quarters of the way to the top with mash and add a teaspoon of gravy.
- Cover with an even layer of peas pudding until the top is sealed completely.
- Bake in a pre-heated oven at 375 degrees for 15 minutes or until the outer crust is golden brown.
- Top with a pinch of pepper and serve hot.

When I began working in a high-end restaurant last December I was met with a mix of emotions when I saw a jigg’s dinner pot pie featured on the menu. My first thought was that through spreading my idea freely among my friends and family, it had made it to the restaurant, much as any other food meme would.

I was about to point it out to the chef when she mentioned it was her own creation. At the time I was a bit skeptical, but I supposed it wouldn’t be the first time two creative people arrived at the same result.

When I learned of the popularity of the dish, however, I was envious and full of regret at blabbing about it so long ago.

Ultimately it was a lesson learned about keeping my ideas to myself ... for the most part.

Happy creating!

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