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Thursday, January 5, 2012

Pieday: Chocolate cream at Dan's I-30 Diner

Posted By on Thu, Jan 5, 2012 at 10:31 PM

Want a good solid bite for lunch? You can get it at Dan’s I-30 Diner in Benton, along with whatever pie the staff decides to make up each day. But once it’s gone, it’s gone.

Stopped in recently. I wanted breakfast. My dining companion wanted lunch. He went for the excellent Chicken Salad Sandwich ($5.95 with one side). It came out on lovely buttered and toasted white bread. The roasted hand-pulled chicken was plentiful in its mayonnaise emulsion with tiny chunks of pickle and apple. It was scooped onto a layer of green leaf lettuce and tomato slice, which accompanied the saltiness of the roasted chicken well.

The potato salad — well, it’s Devilled Egg Potato Salad, and it is excellent — all the good parts of devilled eggs with potatoes thrown in. I’m actually surprised they don’t just sell Devilled Egg Salad; the potato is soft and adds texture and starch but doesn’t really add anything to the flavor. Not that I’m complaining.

As I said, I wanted breakfast, and got it in the form of Corned Beef Hash and Eggs ($5.95). Yeah, the corned beef hash came out of a can — but it was thrown on the griddle, seared on both sides and served up under a crown of two over-easy eggs with four triangles of toast. Pair it with a cuppa coffee and it’ll put hair on your chest. It’s hearty, it’s salty, it’s hangover food. There ya go.

But there’s always some sort of dessert up on the wipeboard — and what it is, changes every day. Might be sweet potato or pecan pie or cobbler, it‘s $2.49 and it‘s always good. I lucked out. This particular day it was chocolate cream — and it came out soft. Instead of being topped with a Cool Whip style topping, it was topped with a handmade cream — and I know exactly how it’s made and what it’s made from because it’s the same recipe I use for easy frosting, no joke.

It’s milk whisked into flour until it creates a demi-roux, chilled and then combined with butter and sugar for a perfect, not-too-sweet topping.

But I never thought to put it on pie before — and in this pie, it is excellent, sitting atop a rich and thick chilled chocolate cream that’s the consistency of cheesecake without that slightly tart flavor. The whole shebang is topped with chocolate shavings and is served unglamorously. And if the sugar didn’t just knock me out I’d eat six of them.

You’ll find Dan’s I-30 Diner in Benton next to the Best Western on the I-30 access road heading westbound. Take the Congo exit to get there. (501) 778-4116

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