Monday, January 2, 2012

Meat Pies!

Do I really need to say more? Well, of course I do!!

During the holidays, you can easily find yourself consuming a great deal of each, meat and pies. I had to ask myself. Why not combine? Why not combine, and give as gifts! Talk about Holiday efficiency!  Inspired by The Australian Gourmet Traveler’s recipe, we went a step further in the below round II chicken meat pie recipe, once we nailed the foundation.
These party pies are a perfect gift token any time of year!  A great conversational piece during gift exchange, they travel, refrigerate, freeze and reheat perfectly.  A quick reheat for 10 minutes in a preheated 400°F oven, they’re perfect for quick snacks - or even for dinner when paired with a seasonal salad.  These pies were a nice lesson in both the wine braising of the beef, and homemade short crust. Both techniques are nothing to be afraid of, and easier done than said.  Believe me.
Our first batch stayed fairly true to the traditional Australian party pie recipe.  The only change - we made two batches of the short crust recipe for both the top and bottom crusts, eliminating the need for puff pastry. The result was an eye opening experience: reduced velvety red wine stew of tender braised beef in a muffin tin mold of flakey butter crust! Seriously! Impossible to contain our discovery excitement, from the very first bite of the more traditional beef pies, we planned our own round II recipe. Have you ever tasted something and immediately thought, “I’m going to need a lot more of this”?  These pies are so tastey; you’ll start to negotiate exactly how many should you give away versus keeping on hand. You’re allowed, but be generous!

The remedy for that dilemma … make more! IMMEDIATELY. A flexible recipe with whatever you have on hand, I predict there will be many more delicious Bon Appégeechee variations of this Aussie favorite to come. Stay tuned!  In the meantime, introducing our saucy Chicken Meat Pie!
The Ingredients – The Stew
½ 7lb roaster chicken (washed and cleaned of excess fat: chicken back, neck and giblets removed. Split roaster in half. Use half of chicken for this recipe, freeze and save additional half)
Dry seasonings: equal amounts one (1) rounded tsp. each chili powder, ground black pepper, cumin, Jamaican curry powder, Hungarian Paprika. Secret ingredient – 1 packet Sazón Goya® (con cilantro y achiote: coriander & annatto)
Fresh herbs: 4 sprigs of thyme
2 tbs extra virgin olive oil
cup chopped onion
cup of chopped leek
¼ cup chopped poblano pepper
1 ½ tbs. Tomato paste
1 – 8oz. can of tomato sauce
1 – 16oz. can of coconut water
2 cups of chicken stock
The Ingredients – The Crust
(This recipe makes 1 batch. Make two batches if using short crust for both tops and bottom of pies)
2 cups AP flour
1 ½ stick of unsalted butter/ 12 tbs. (chilled)
1 tbs. fresh thyme leaves
½ cup shredded cheddar cheese
½ tsp. salt
cup of ice cold water
1 egg

The Method – The Stew
Keeping It Real Disclosure: make this recipe prepared to cool stew and crusts overnight. I wouldn’t lie to you; the sitting time does wonderful things to both components. WELL worth it!
Preheat oven 300°F. Combine all dry seasoning, creating a dry base to rub and season chicken. Distribute the thyme sprigs underneath the wing and over the seasoned bird. She’ll thank you later! Place chicken in a well-seasoned cast iron pan or a one (1) tbs. oiled heavy bottom small roasting pan. Roast 2 hours. The beauty of your bird in 2 hours will be astonishing. Resist picking.  Set aside to cool.
Now on to the gravy!
Sauté over medium heat: the chopped onions, leeks, and poblano with 1 tsp extra virgin olive oil in a heavy bottom 5 quart pan for 3-5 minutes. Add tomato paste, stir well to combine, toast tomato paste for 2 minutes. In cooking the tomato paste first, it develops further concentration of color and flavor. The vegetables will soften, with the onions starting to appear translucent.
Add the entire 16 oz. can of coconut water. Stir well to combine, bring to a rolling boil, and then reduce to simmer for about 20 minutes. This will allow the coconut water to reduce and intensify its flavors well into the tomato vegetable base before adding the stock.
Add 2 cups of chicken stock to this simmer. Now, in our house, we make various stocks from scratch, 3-4 times per week, so it’s always on hand. Recipes to come. However, for the sake of this recipe, stock is stock. Homemade or otherwise (low sodium, please, if you must). Allow this newly enriched base to continue to simmer for an additional 30 minutes.
I never said that this was a quick meal, but what I am saying is … It’s a FANTASTIC ONE!
Now add 1-8oz. can of tomato sauce. Stir to combine well.
Not to worry, we’re in the home stretch here with the stew’s sauce!  Keep going.  Allow the tomato sauce to simmer in the gravy for an additional 15 minutes. Your sauce will progressively appear and smell thicker, richer, and more fragrant.
We haven’t forgotten about that gorgeous bird resting have we?!? Bring her over!
Remove skin and bones from chicken. Set aside for snacking, or stock, but know that you need the chicken meat for the pie. No snacking!! You’ll want to. Resist. Only taste! Remember: you have another half chicken in the freezer for your own round 2 roasted chicken recipe. I say again, this chicken is reserved for meat pies!  There’s stewed down gravy simmering for well near an hour in stages. Patience is indeed a virtue and will be rewarded!
Pull the cooled chicken meat into shredded pieces. You’ll be amazed by the succulence and development of flavors of this simple roasted chicken. Add chicken to the simmering sauce. Continue to simmer 10 minutes. Set aside to cool.
As an aside:  bringing the sauce to cool, then refrigerating overnight has proven best. We’ve found that the overnight refrigeration brings an even “all day stewed” reduced texture and well-flavored complexity to your stew. This richness becomes important when you’re preparing to spoon your stew into the prepared pie crusts.  A watery stew is NOT ALLOWED. We’re going for thick, rich stew! The potential of having soggy crusts is avoidable here! Chill overnight!
On to the crusts!
The Method – The Crusts.
Keeping It Real Disclosure: I made the crusts in two batches instead of doubling the initial recipe. I’m no baking pro, but what I do love is when I actually choose to follow recipes, to have those recipes turn out as I like. Making the crusts in two batches rather than doubling up, helps me sleep at night. It only takes 5 minutes if you have your mise-en-place (pre-prepped ingredients).
In a food processor, add flour, salt, and fresh thyme. Pulse the dry ingredients 4-5 times to aerate and combine. Add cheddar and butter. Continue to pulse these ingredients until well combined. Take the lid off the food processor and take a look.  This is an important visual.  The combined dough will appear grainy, like lightly moistened beach sand, in what is often called “varied pea sized” bits. Reassemble food processor; continue to pulse while drizzling in the ⅓ cup of cold water.  Your dough will come together before your eyes, eventually pulling away from the sides of the food processor into a ball.  Roll your dough out on to a sheet of lightly floured plastic wrap or parchment paper.  Knead lightly, forming your dough into a disc, wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate to rest. Complete batch 2 in the exact same manner. Rest dough a minimum of one (1) hour; however, since our stew has to sit overnight, I also allow the crusts to meld in refrigeration overnight as well.

DAY II, or III (well, it depends on how busy your week has been, now doesn’t it.)
We’re almost there! Our journey together has been perfect so far!!
Preheat oven 400°F.
Since the dough has been refrigerated, set out to room temperature, 10 minutes. This is just enough time to keep the dough cold firm, but pliable to start rolling.  Temperature in this recipe is important, as it lends to the flakiness of your crust.  When the butter steams through the crust as it bakes, a buttery crispy crust forms that’s hard to beat.
Dust flat surface and rolling pin with AP flour. Give yourself some room. Remember to rotate a quarter turn between each roll, flip your dough, and lightly AP dust both crust and rolling pin occasionally and if the dough begins to stick.  The beef pie dough was rolled thin about a ½ cm.  Give each disk an additional quick roll just before placing into the muffin pan.  I could vaguely see my fingers through the disks as I held the dough.  The chicken dough was rolled a hair thicker for comparison purposes; however, we preferred the baked texture of thinner ½ cm dough. Onward!
Keeping it Real Reminder: The bottoms of the pies will be cut from a larger mold than tops. This gives you enough dough to fill the depths of the muffin tin, and some overflow to crimp on the tops.
Using the 4 ½” (canister lid) cookie cutter, the yield was 12 bottoms out of the first dough. The final 6 bottoms and all 18 tops were cut from the second batch of dough, using the lid of a 2 ¾” pint/quart canning jar. Use what you have. The only dough cutters I have are oval and scalloped, that simply wouldn’t have worked. Improvising did.
Keeping it real Disclosure: I prepared the muffin tins with just the slightest spritz of non-stick cooking spray.  I was unable to find research as to whether the muffin tins needed to be greased.  I was taking NO chances with these precious pies.
Line the bottom of the muffin tins, with the large disks.  Be careful not to puncture the dough. Each tray is refrigerated for 30 minutes after lining the bottom crust and before filling.
Making sure to work as quickly as possible to keep the dough as cool as possible, we rotated filling three (3) – six (6) slot muffin tins.
During the initial 30 minutes of cooling for the first tray, cut out the remainder bottoms and tops of the crusts.
Fill the first chilled tray with the thickened chilled stew.  Add the crust tops.  Crimp the lids of the crusts to the bases, as best you can.  I’ve found that I am more of a delicate pincher, than crimper. Poke a hole using a toothpick, or cut little slits in the tops of the mini meat pie crusts to release steam as the pies bake.
Whisk an egg with one (1) tbs. of water to create an egg wash. Brush the egg wash across the tops of the crusts. Chill the pies ONE more time, at least 30 minutes.
 Just before baking, give those delicately pinched or beautifully crimped pies one last egg wash.
Bake. 400°F. 20 minutes. If you know your oven, the way I know mine, take a careful peek at them around 15 minutes. If you’re not going to eat all eighteen pies immediately, partially bake them for only 12 minutes. Cool, and refrigerate or freeze in air tight containers.  The golden browning of the crusts as a result of the egg wash, and the flakiness from the careful rolling and cooling of the resulting crusts … well, it’s like … Butter.  You end up with perfectly seasoned roasted chicken sauced in a silky tomato stew.  There is a sweetly mild poblano finish from the sautéed vegetables.  All of this is encased in a cheddar crust, which wafts of thyme in each flakey bite, THIS IS A MEAT PIE!

1 comment:

  1. I was raised on these babies. I need to make and freeze a few batches for the days I have company and I'm at a loss at to what to serve!!! I don't know how you got through these long enough to take pictures! I would have eaten them before they saw the light of the flash!