Thursday, June 26, 2014

Beef Tourtière (Meat Pie)

Who doesn't love pies? In the summer, I typically lean towards sweet ones filled with the bounty of fresh single fruit or in combination. However, after trying a delicious braised beef rib pie recently in a cute Etobicoke shop called Pie Commission, I have been craving meat pies. Classic tourtière is usually made with ground pork but I had ground beef in my freezer and the results tastes just as yummy! It has a hearty beefy flavour with a mild hint of cloves, cinnamon and nutmeg to warm up the meat and potato pastry, very reminiscent of the classic version. Oh, and who needs to ever buy those frozen prepared crusts again when you can simply and proudly make perfectly flaky ones yourself! Just some flour, salt and butter, a little preparation and you're golden!

Beef Tourtière (Meat Pie)
Makes 6 to 8 servings

2 large potatoes, 1 cut, steamed and mashed, and the other, diced into small cubes
1 lb. lean ground beef or use 1/2 and 1/2 with lean ground pork
1 small onion, finely chopped 
1 clove garlic, finely chopped 
1 stalk celery, finely chopped
1/4 cup red wine or sherry
2/3 cup beef stock
2 tsp. Dijon mustard 
3/4 tsp. salt 
1/4 tsp. ground black pepper 
1/4 tsp. dried thyme or fresh thyme leaves plucked from 3 sprigs
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves 
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon 
1/4 teaspoon grated nutmeg 
egg or whipped cream for pastry brushing 

In a large skillet, heat the oil over medium-high heat and sauté the beef, onion, garlic, celery, and chopped potatoes (save mashed for later) until the vegetables are tender and the meat is cooked through. Drain any excess fat from the pan. Add the beef stock, wine, herbs, and spices to the meat and vegetables; simmer the mixture over low-medium heat, covered, for about 15 minutes. Remove the skillet from the heat and stir the mashed potatoes into the mixture. Allow the meat filling to cool completely. 

TIP: Use a fork to breakdown the meat to create a minced texture, and add a little water.

Shortcrust Pastry:
Makes 2 9-inch crust pies

2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
1/4 tsp. salt
3/4 cup cold unsalted butter, cubed
1/3 cup ice water (approximately)

TIP Note: Quick and cold… The secret to flaky pastry is to handle it as little as possible. When mixing the wet ingredients into the dry, stop once it sticks together to form a cohesive dough. Run your hands under cold water for a few minutes and pat dry before handling as this prevents the dough from getting too warm.

In a small bowl, mix together the flour and salt. Using a pastry cutter, or a food processor on pulse setting, cut the chilled butter into the flour until it resembles coarse sand with a few pea-sized pieces of butter still visible. Sprinkle the water evenly over the mixture and toss gently a few times, just until it forms a ball that holds together.

Separate the dough into two balls, flatten slightly into thick disk shapes, wrap in plastic wrap, and chill for at least 30 minutes before working with it.

Preheat oven to 375F. Roll out the dough on a floured work surface or between two sheets of parchment paper in a 1/8-inch (3 to 4-mm) thick sheet. Line the bottom of the pie pan with one circle with dough overlapping the sides.

Spoon the filling into the prepared pie pan and top with the remaining pastry dough-- put pastry on the rolling pin and roll it to slide on to cover. 

Place the rolled dough onto your rolling pin for easy topping. 

Press the edge to seal with a fork; trim of excess pastry off the sides with a knife. Make an incision in the centre (I like to create a small design of leaves-- saving the cut out pieces and adding on top for decoration). Brush with egg wash or cream. (Brushing the top of the pastry with egg or cream creates a nice even golden brown crust.) Bake until the crust is golden brown, 50 minutes to 1 hour. 

Perfectly golden, hearty and appetizing!

Serve with a simple side green salad and of course, traditional ketchup for pie dipping YUM!

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