Something or other a few months back prompted me to become interested in dishes that integrate an outer pastry layer. I tried wrapping a corned beef in a roll of those flakey layer biscuits (Biscuit layer tasted great but cooking a corned beef that far from water does not yeild optimal results). I tried approximating a Georgian Kachapuri (It was not a very close approximation). And I made various attempts at pot pies and pouring a cup of bisquick batter on top of hearty stews. Finally, I decided to think this problem through and come up with an actual plan. Also, something shifted in the freezer one morning and made it pop open again after Leah got an ice pack out one morning, so three pie crusts I had in there thawed out.
Here’s what I came up with…
Makes 2 13-inch pies…
- The Vegetables
- ½ cup pine nuts
- 1 Tbsp vegetable oil
- 1 Tbsp olive oil
- 1 Tbsp butter (Yes of course I used White Truffle Butter, do you really need to ask?)
- 1 Tbsp crushed garlic
- 2 medium onions, diced fine
- ¼ cup chopped fresh parsley
- 3 stalks of celery, chopped
- 10 oz Cremini mushrooms, quartered
- 6 oz shredded red cabbage
- 1 lb very lean (90/10) ground beef
- 1 lb reduced fat bulk pork sausage
- ½ cup water
- 3 Tbsp Skillet Chipotle Pumpkin Sauce
- 2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
- ½ tsp paprika
- ½ cumin
- 2 Tbsp butter (A little black truffle butter in the mix here is called for)
- 3 Tbsp unbleached whole wheat flour
- ½ cup red wine
- ¼ cup V-8 or comparable vegetable juice
- ¼ cup chicken broth
- 1 more Tbsp Skillet Chipotle Pumpkin Sauce, for good measure
- 1 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
- 1 tsp brown sugar
- 4 pie crusts, or 3 pie crusts and a cup of bisquick batter.
- 1 cup frozen peas and carrots
Heat up a large skillet over high heat (If you are doing this all at once, use a 4 quart pot instead. I did the first half the night before and let everything chill overnight first). Toast the pine nuts for a minute or so, stirring constantly. Add the oil, then remove from heat and add the butter and garlic. Once the butter’s melted and the garlic is aromatic, reduce the heat to medium and add the onions. Cook them for 3-4 minutes, then reduce the heat to low and add everthing else. Cover and simmer until everything’s tender, about 10 minutes or so. Drain the vegetables well, scrape out anything burned to the pan, and set aside.
Turn the heat back up to medium-high. Spray the pan with cooking spray and add the meat. Count to thirty, then add the water, and reduce the heat to medium-low. Stir the meat until thoroughly broken up (Adding the water is the trick here to
minimize clumping. Add everything else from that section. Reduce heat to low, cover, and let cook until the meat is completely cooked, about 20 minutes. Taste it and see if it needs more seasoning — this is going to be the dominant flavor of your dish. Drain the meat thoroughly. At this point, I stuck everything in the fridge and went to bed. If you’d prefer to soldier on, be my guest.
Preheat the oven to 400°. Put everything in a 4-quart pot on low heat and stir together. Add the peas and carrots. Take two 13″ pieplates and press crusts into them. Blind-bake the lower crusts for about 20 minutes to ½ an hour. Then freak out because despite your having done everything Emeril and Alton Brown said about blind-baking, your crusts still shrank, bubbled, and collapsed. S’okay, we’ll work around it. Meanwhile, in a small skillet, melt the butter then whisk in the flour and cook it for three minutes over medium-high heat. Remove from heat and add the wine, working in the roux, then return it to the heat and add the other liquids. Bring it to a boil, then reduce heat to low and reduce by half. Taste it, and add brown sugar until it isn’t too tart (This will depend on how tart your red wine was).
Once your pie shells are ready, remove whatever you weighted down the inside with, and fill it with the meat and vegetable mixture. Fill both shells about as full as you think they ought to be, then pour the sauce over that (Do not add so much
sauce that the filling becomes soupy. You’re shooting here for something texturally more in the taco family than the chilli family), then add any filling you have left over on top. Press the top pie crust onto the top, crimping the edge as best you can — I assume you have at least a passing knowledge of what a pie is supposed to look like (or if, like me, you had an odd number of pie crusts due to a failed experiment in trying to invent the Irish Calzone, pour the batter over the top). Use a small, sharp knife to cut a few slits in the top crust, then into the oven with it (Put something under the pieplates. I didn’t have any trouble with them leaking, but I’m not taking the blame for you making a mess of the oven) for about half an hour (You can just follow the instructions on the pie crust package if you’re using prefabricated crusts. All you’re cooking at this point is the shell.). Let stand at least 10 minutes before cutting into it.
This is a pretty hearty and delicious pie. Leah and I ate one for dinner that night, and the other sustained me over the following weekend.