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Hot Pastry Pies (Pate Chaud)

These French-inspired savory hot pastry pies are filled with ground meat and vegetables and then baked to a beautiful golden brown color.  The typical recipe uses ground pork with a puff pastry dough.  My version is a lighter and healthier option.  Any ground meat works well in this recipe but I especially like lean ground turkey or chicken.  I also like a generous amount of vegetables in my filling and use onions, celery (which adds a really nice crunch) and the traditional wood ear mushrooms.  I swap out the puff pastry for refrigerated biscuit dough.  Why? The puff pastry, although delicious, is actually quite heavy with the ingredients listing “hydrogenated vegetable shortening as the third ingredient (pretty fattening!).  I like using biscuit dough because it’s a lot lighter in terms of calories and fat content.  I also find refrigerated biscuit dough to be perfectly portioned, much easier to work and much less expensive than the puff pastry.

These pastry pies make a wonderful quick appetizer or snack.  The best way to reheat the pies is in a toaster oven for 5 minutes.  If you’re short on time, pop them in the microwave for 45 seconds.

Watch the video below for instructions.

Ingredients

2 cans refrigerated biscuit dough (Pillsbury Grands Flaky Layer, 8 biscuits per can)
1 1/3 lb ground meat of your choice (I use lean turkey)
1/2 cup finely diced onions
1/2 cup finely diced celery
1/4 cup rehydrated wood ear mushrooms (also called black fungus), finely chopped
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
1 egg yolk
1 Tbsp water

Directions

Soak wood ear mushrooms in a bowl of tap water for 10 minutes.  Drain well and then finely chop.

Finely dice celery and onions.  In a large bowl combine ground meat, onions, celery and mushrooms, salt and pepper and mix well.

To make the egg wash, separate the egg and put the yolk into a small bowl.  Add the water to the yolk and mix together.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Sprinkle a thin layer of flour on your work surface.  Remove the biscuits from the can.  (Leave the other can in the refrigerator until you are ready to use it.)  Take a biscuit and roll it flat using a small rolling pin.  Roll the dough in an oval shape approximately 6 inches long by 4 inches wide.  Scoop out approximately 2 tablespoons of filling and drop about 1/2 inch from the bottom edge of the dough.  Form the meat into a log using your fingers.  Gently lift the top edge of the dough and fold it over lining up the edges.  Press the edges together gently using your finger.  Use the fork to seal along the edge of the pastry pie.  Continue until all pies are made.  Place pies on baking sheets lined with parchment paper.

Brush each pie with the egg wash.  Prick holes on top of pastry with a fork.  Bake for 25 minutes or until golden brown.  About halfway through the baking process, rotate the baking sheets so the pies brown evenly.

Remove from oven and place on cooling racks.  Allow to cool slightly before serving.

Yields: 16 pies

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Steamed Minced Meat Rice Cake (Banh Gio)

Often I crave my favorite Viet dishes but don’t have the time to make them as per the traditional recipes.  This Steamed Minced Meat Rice Cake is one of those dishes where the prep time can be a bit daunting.  Called Banh Gio, this savory cake is typically individually wrapped in banana leaves in the shape of a pyramid.  Although knowing how to wrap these cakes is a skill I think every good chef should master, most days I just want to enjoy the wonderful taste of this dish without the fuss.  And so my shortcut is to make just one cake.   It’s super simple and super fast and less time cooking means more time eating! 🙂

Quick tip:  If you enjoy the aroma of the banana leaves, line the bowl with the leaves.

Watch the video below for instructions.


Ingredients

Filling
2 Tbsp dried black fungus slivers (also called wood ear mushrooms)
1/2 small onion
1 tsp olive oil
1/2 tsp minced garlic
1/3 pound ground chicken (or any ground meat of your choice)
1 tsp fish sauce
2 tsp oyster sauce
1/8 tsp black pepper

Dough
1 1/2 cups water
1 cup cornstarch
1/4 cup rice flour
1-14.5 oz can chicken broth

Directions

Soak mushrooms in warm water for 10 minutes to rehydrate.  Drain, and coarsely chop.
Peel onions and finely dice.

Heat a wok over high heat.  Add olive oil and garlic.  Stir fry for 5 seconds.  Add onions and stir fry for 1 minute.  Add mushrooms and ground meat and stir fry for 2 minutes.  Use a spoon to break the meat into smaller pieces.  Add fish sauce and oyster sauce and stir fry for another 2 minutes.  We are only partially cooking the meat and so it will still be a bit pink.  Remove from heat.

Spray non-stick cooking spray inside a glass bowl or baking dish.  Smear oil evenly using a paper towel or pastry brush.

Fill the steamer bottom halfway with water.  Add steamer tray.  Cover and turn heat to high.

In a measuring cup, combine flour and cornstarch with water and stir until smooth.

In a saucepan over high heat, bring the chicken broth to a boil, then turn heat to low.  Stir flour/water mixture one more time and then pour into saucepan with the chicken broth.  Stir everything together.  The mixture starts to thicken in 1-2 minutes.  As soon as the dough becomes creamy (but still slightly runny), turn off the heat.  Continue stirring quickly as the dough thickens.  It should look like a thick pudding when finished.  This entire process is fast and takes just 2-3 minutes.  If dough is lumpy, remove from heat and keep stirring and lumps should disappear.

Spoon half of the dough into the glass dish and spread evenly.  Add the meat filling and distribute almost to the edge of the bowl or dish.  Add the remaining dough on top and smooth with a spatula.

Place dish onto steamer  tray and steam for 20 minutes.  Remove dish from steamer and allow to cool for 10 minutes before serving.

Serve with delicious soy sauce dipping sauce and some chili paste.

Yields: 8-inch round cake, 4 servings

 

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