Thursday, June 5, 2008

Family Kitchen Field Trip: Meat Pie a la Chris

Hello family, lace up your sneakers and get ready for a treat: we are taking a field trip to my friend Chris's kitchen for a recipe from his family! I've heard about this humbly named dish from Chris for some time now, but I couldn't quite picture what a "meat pie" looks like. So in my mind I had conjured a few possibilities: a Hot-Pockets type of pastry (hand-held for maximum eating efficiency)? Something like a Sheperd's Pie (the only other meat-filled pie I know)? A meat cobbler dotted with streusel (I hoped not)?

The real meat pie a la Chris is a lot more delightful and delicious and less meaty than I imagined. It's bubbly, cheesy, and fun to make and eat.

In fact, it looks like this (hot sauce on the side because I'm a wimp):

Meat Pie a la Chris

2 ready-made 9 inch frozen pie crusts (we got these from Whole Foods but any good brand will do)
2 cups ground beef
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 onion, diced, about 1/3 inch thick
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 can black beans, drained
1 can corn, drained
1 can tomato, diced
1 cup black olives, chopped roughly
2 stalks scallions, chopped
1 1/2 cup shredded Mozzarella cheese
1/2 cup whole milk yogurt or sour cream
hot sauce of your choice

Preheat oven to 400F.
Unwrap the frozen pie crusts and place them on a baking sheet.

In a large saute pan over medium heat, crumble ground beef and cook until cooked-through. Add chopped onion and minced garlic, stir and cook until onion slices are translucent. Salt and pepper to taste. Add the balsamic vinegar and reduce until the vinegar is almost gone.

Note: Now, here is where the recipe gets a little hazy. I had been distracted by Chris's new kittens, who were perched on a leather couch, heads perked up, intently watching the cooking process.

So, while I was distracted by the kittens, there could have been some other seasonings added to the beef but I am not exactly sure what. Judging from the contents of the cupboard, my guess is that it could be garlic powder, a dash of gravy mix, or boullion cube. I think it could be the gravy mix but I am not entirely sure. I will just say for now that it is salt, pepper, and gravy mix with 85 percent certainty.

"The beauty of meat pie is that it's different every time. it changes with moods, seasons, lovers." - Chris of the meat pies

Well, hmmph. Back to the recipe.

Add the drained canned corn, black beans, 2/3 cup of the olives, and diced tomatoes with juice. Season well with salt and pepper (and plenty of it!). Cover and simmer for 15 minutes so the flavors can blend.

Suggested activities while the meat pie filling simmers: 1) play with kittens (if available), 2) play some music from your lap top (a little Daft Punk?) or 3) shred the cheese and take the yogurt/sour cream out of the fridge. I recommend all of the above.

After 15 minutes, simmer the mixture uncovered for 5 more minutes for the liquids to evaporate. The filling should not be soupy.

Divide the filling into the pie crusts evenly. Sprinkle each pie generously with cheese.

Bake on the middle rack of the oven for 20-25 minutes until the cheese is deep golden brown and mixture is bubbling. Rotate the pies in the middle of baking if your baking sheet is just a tad too big to fit into the oven, as it was the case on our field trip.

Remove pies from oven and let it rest for a few minutes until it stops bubbling.

To serve: top each slice with a dollop of yogurt or sour cream, dash of hot sauce, and dot it generously with scallions (it really adds to the flavor) and some more olives.