It must be Christmas because I made a batch of scrapple. Unlike normal families who sit around singing carols ‘neath the tree, sipping mugs of hot cocoa with little marshmallows floating on top, my family’s holiday tradition consists of making pork mush. My cousins actually have contests to see whose tastes the best. Bless their little hearts.
Scrapple, so-called because farmers refused to waste any of the meat scraps left over from the annual hog butchering, is considered a 17th century Pennsylvania Dutch delicacy, tho' history indicates it's been around in some form or fancy for a lot longer than that. "Everything but the squeal" went into making this: the organ meats such as tongue, heart, liver and brains, and bits scraped off the head.
This recipe uses pork shoulder (Boston butt), a much more palatable part of Mr. Hog; the same cut that gives us pulled pork for BBQ sandwiches. We serve scrapple for Christmas day breakfast.
3 lb boneless pork shoulder (Boston Butt)
2 qts (8 C) chicken broth or stock
2 stalks celery, cut in half or thirds
2 - 3 carrots, cut in half
1 large onion, peeled and sectioned into 8ths
6 garlic cloves, peeled and minced
4 bay leaves
2 tsp salt
1 tsp black pepper
Several sprigs fresh thyme
Other herbs and spices (use whatever you have on hand that appeals to you: rosemary, fennel, sage, crushed red pepper, etc)
2 C yellow corn meal
Bacon grease (or veggie oil)
Optional: maple syrup, applesauce, ketchup (ugh!), even grape jelly
Place meat in a large pot with chicken broth, veggies, garlic, bay leaves, salt, pepper, thyme and your other herbs and spices. Bring just to a boil, cover, turn heat down to a low simmer, and cook until meat is tender and falling apart, 'bout 3 hours, or so.
Remove the meat from the pot. Strain the broth 2 or 3 times, discarding the chunky stuff. Set strained broth aside.
If you are like me and very particular when it comes to meat, pick through it, gently scraping away most of the gooshy parts. Feed granddog the real scraps. He'll love you for life and fart happily for the rest of the day.
At this point, you are supposed to use an old-fashioned meat grinder, the kind that bolts to the table and has a turn crank. My parents used to have one, but they either got rid of it long ago, or it got tossed when we were moving them to the Dallas area. If you don't have one, a food processor works just as well. Roughly chop the meat before processing it.
You want 2 qts (8 C) of what I call a "slurry", which is meat mixed with the strained broth. Spoon half of your meat into a 1 qt measuring cup, and then add broth to the 1 qt line (4 C total). Dump this into the pot you used to cook the meat in the first place. Repeat with the remaining half. If you run out of broth, use water.
Bring the slurry to barely bubbling over medium-low heat. Add your corn meal a little bit at a time, whisking constantly. The corn meal will slowly thicken the slurry. It will get REALLY thick and extremely hard to whisk/stir. (I start out with a wire whisk, finish up with a sturdy wooden spoon.) Cook and stir until you get a consistency that's almost cement-like. The stuff will kind of stand up under its own power.
Turn off the heat and spoon the thickened meat mixture into a loaf pan. Cool, cover well with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight (at the very least) to firm up.
When ready to eat, invert the loaf pan onto a cutting board. The scrapple should slide right out and retain its shape. Slice cross-wise into 1/4" or thicker slices. Thicker slices will be crispy on the outside, a little mushy on the inside. Pan fry in the bacon grease until nicely browned on both sides. Serve with the optional stuff listed above. I prefer syrup or applesauce. My daughter suggested we try sour cream. Applesauce and sour cream are served with potato latkes, so consider scrapple a meat latke! A very non-Kosher latke!
With less than two weeks to go until Turkey Day, I have been immersed in my cookbooks, carefully considering all the candidates for this year's annual tryptophan feast. It's not just about taste and presentation and degree of difficulty, but also the logistics required to get each platter and bowl on the buffet table at the appointed hour and at the perfect temperature for each.
Over the years, my tastes have moved away from the casserole-y side dishes popular with my mother's generation --- you know, the kind laden with cream of 'soup', cartons of sour cream, bricks of cream cheese and bags of shredded cheddar. Roasted vegetables are not only easier to prepare and healthier, but they look much prettier on the plate. My woeful camera and food styling skills aside, the picture above left looks far more appetizing than the fat-saturated canned green bean glop on the right. I will not lie, though; put a spoonful of this glop on my plate and I will not only happily eat it, but probably ask for seconds. I was raised on stuff like this.
This recipe calls for REAL baby carrots, not the peeled and whittled down chunks sold in bags. This may mean a trip to your local farmers' market or an upscale grocery store. I found maroon, orange and white carrots at Central Market. I thought it would be cool to add a splash of purple to my platter of roasted veggies, but to my surprise, I discovered the maroon color scrubs right off; it's like they were dipped in paint. My advice? Save your money and just buy the plain orange ones. Don't care for Brussels sprouts? You could use all carrots instead, but roasting sprouts is the best way to eat these "little green balls of death" as I heard someone refer to them once. I love them.
For some reason, people like to drench cooked carrots in a brown sugar glaze that overpowers their natural sweetness. I prefer this light and tangy mustard sauce.
Brussels Sprouts and Carrots in Mustard Sauce
1 lb Brussels sprouts, trimmed and halved length-wise (very large sprouts can be quartered)
3 bunches REAL baby carrots (about 20 total), UNPEELED, trimmed, halved length-wise (small ones can be left whole)
1 TB EVOO
1 tsp Kosher salt
Freshly cracked black pepper to taste
2 TB butter
4 tsp coarse ground mustard
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Toss prepped veggies with EVOO, salt and pepper. Spread veggies on rimmed baking sheet. Roast 25 minutes.
Melt butter in small saucepan. When butter foams, stir in mustard. Toss veggies with the mustard sauce and serve immediately.
Green bean casserole: http://www.genaw.com/lowcarb/dotties_green_bean_casserole.html
Fresh baby carrots: http://ravenouskitchen.com/2013/05/pickled-baby-carrots/
Bagged "baby" carrots: http://samsaranmusing.tumblr.com/post/64545351609/there-are-no-such-things-as-baby-carrots-these
I've never been a huge fan of pimiento cheese, the so-called caviar of the South. It's not that I dislike it --- put it in front of me and I'll eat it --- it just never had that 'wow' factor. Every proper hostess in the 60's and 70's, my mother included, would glop up celery with it and serve it as a part of a fancy relish tray. Thankfully, that trend seems to have died out.
I was inspired to make this sandwich from a similar one I had at the Chocolate Angel, a luncheon and tea room popular with the ladies in my neighborhood. Normally, I would steer clear of any mention of pimiento cheese, but this concoction had three of my favorite things: jalapenos, strawberry jam and BACON. What could possibly go wrong?
The original recipe utilizes Miss Mattie's pimiento cheese, a homemade version "just like our Grannie made!" I used a store-bought brand. The original also calls for candied jalapenos. I used pickled jalapenos.
Spicy Pimiento Cheese Sammies with Bacon
Pimiento cheese spread (I used the Price's brand - a small tub will make two generous sandwiches)
Sliced pickled jalapenos, drained and finely chopped (I used the Old El Paso brand - use as much as you want, according to your taste)
Dash(es) of cayenne pepper (this turns up the heat, use to your taste)
Bacon, figure 2 - 3 slices per sandwich
Butter, softened, so it's easily spreadable
Some kind of hearty bread like a sourdough or multi-grain (I used an orange-cranberry bread)
Mix together the pimiento cheese, jalapenos and cayenne pepper. This will taste better if made early in the day to allow the flavors to marry. It's also better to let your mixture sit out to room temp before making the sandwiches; you don't want the insides ice-cold.
In a skillet, fry your bacon. Drain well.
Wipe out the interior of your skillet with paper towels. Spread a generous amount of butter on both sides of your bread slices. Fry the bread in the skillet --- both sides --- until nicely browned and toasty.
Remove the bread and while still hot, assemble your sandwiches: spread a generous amount of the cheese mixture on one slice. Layer on the bacon. Spread the other bread slice with the jam and top off your sandwich. Cut in half and serve immediately.
There's a Chinese/Vietnamese restaurant in Richardson that my husband and I frequent. It's called Caravelle, but we call it the Pink Palace. Pink walls. Pink tablecloths. Crystal chandeliers. It's like being inside a bottle of Pepto Bismol. The restaurant is a popular spot for wedding receptions, so I guess that's why it's all done up in pink. It's not pretty in the light of day, but maybe at night with the lights turned low, it's not so bad. Come to think of it, you could say the same for most people, me included.
Anyway, Caravelle has an enormous menu, so big that every item is numbered to make it easier to order, just use your handy-dandy, all-purpose pointer finger. Every time we go, I tell myself I'm going to try something different, but I always chicken out and wind up ordering one of several tried and true dishes. One of those dishes is a noodle entree from the Vietnamese section of the menu, Vermicelli with Charcoal Broiled Pork, I think it's called (numero 200, I believe). It arrives in a big bowl, plenty for two, but it's light eating. The last time I had it, I deconstructed the ingredients so I would be able to make it at home, but I found I faced two hurdles before trying a homemade version: one was the pickled veggies, the other was the chili sauce.
After a lot of Googling (when in doubt, Google), I found recipes for the veggies and the sauce. Here's a picture:
This is a very labor intensive recipe, but extremely easy to put together. I did not charcoal broil the pork, choosing to save time and pan fry, instead. All the pictures you see were from my first attempt to copy this dish and it turned out surprisingly well. I'm really not very intuitive when it comes to cooking.
First, make the pickled veggies. Make a big batch and keep chilled in the fridge for up to three weeks. You can find daikon in Asian grocery stores.
Pickled Daikon and Carrots
Ingredients (sorry, but I'm kind of fuzzy on some of the amounts):
1 Daikon root, peeled and cut into thick matchstick pieces*
Carrots, peeled and cut into thick matchstick pieces**
1 tsp salt
2 tsp sugar PLUS 1/2 C sugar
1 1/4 C distilled white vinegar
1 C warm water
*The one I bought was about the length of my forearm and as big around as my wrist. I'm guessing it weighed a pound to a pound and a half.
**I bought a bag of whole carrots and cut up enough to roughly equal the amount of the sliced daikon. You could purchase a bag of julienned carrots to save time, but these are so skinny, I don't know how they would hold up to the brine over time. Regardless, I prefer a toothier cut.
Place the prepared daikon and carrots in a bowl. Sprinkle with the salt and 2 tsp sugar, and then use your hands to gently toss everything together. The salt and sugar will expel the water and slightly soften the veggies. When you can bend a piece of daikon so the ends touch without breaking in the middle, about 2 - 3 minutes, drain the veggies and rinse them under cold running water. Transfer them to a container with a lid.
In a bowl, combine the 1/2 C sugar, the vinegar and the warm water. Stir well to dissolve the sugar. Pour over the veggies. (The brine should cover them.) Let this sit for at least 1 hour before serving.
While your vegetables pickle, make your nuoc cham. Don't ask me how it's pronounced. Double the recipe for six or more servings.
Nuoc Cham (Vietnamese Dipping Sauce)
1/2 C warm water
1/4 C rice vinegar
1/4 C fish sauce
1/4 C sugar
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 red chilies, minced (include membranes and seeds)*
Lime juice to taste (use a small lime)
*Two chilies had a definite bite, but were not overwhelming. Adjust according to your taste preference. I used red jalapeno chilies found in my local Asian market. Here's a pic:
Mix together all of the above ingredients EXCEPT the lime juice until the sugar dissolves.
Cut the lime into quarters. Squeeze one of the quarters into your sauce, stir and taste. I can't tell you what exactly to look for, but just squeeze a bit at a time and taste until you like it. I used about 3/4 of the small lime I had. I like that citrusy bloom to cut down on the sweet from the sugar and the strong taste of the fish sauce. Cover and keep chilled.
Now that you've made your pickled veggies and your chili sauce, it's time to wash and prep the remaining vegetables. They are shown below:
We are fortunate to have a large, well-stocked Asian market just a couple of miles from us. I bought all of the vegetables I used for this recipe there, with the exception of the romaine. I especially liked the bean sprouts. They are sold in bulk and were sparkling fresh, unlike the bagged stuff that's slightly brown and kind of slimy at my regular store. If you've never been inside an Asian market, it's quite a trip.
Vietnamese Noodles with Pork
How much you buy depends on how many people you expect to serve, the size of the portions, and the ratio of the different ingredients (for example, you might prefer more mint than cilantro). Basically, you'll have to eyeball it. With the exception of the meat, the amounts below will serve six. Figure on a quarter-pound of pork per person.
Eliminate the meat and you have a vegetarian meal.
This dish is served slightly cold or room temperature.
1 head romaine lettuce, well washed and blotted dry
Fresh bulk bean sprouts, washed and blotted dry
1 bunch fresh cilantro, washed, dried
1 bunch fresh mint, washed, dried
1 cucumber, unpeeled and washed
1 center-cut boneless pork loin chop, about 1/2 pound for two people
12 oz package vermicelli (I used the Skinner brand)
1/2 - 3/4 C salted peanuts, coarsely crushed
Pickled daikon and carrots
Prepare your veggies:
Lightly roll up romaine leaves length-wise, like a cigar, and cut cross-wise into 1/2-inch wide strips.
Pinch off the tough, thick stems on your cilantro and mint. The leaves should remain whole.
Cut cucumber in half. Using a spoon, scrape out the seeds. Cut cucumber halves cross-wise into 2-inch long sections, and then julienne each section.
Trim your pork chop of fat and cut the chop into thin strips. Pan fry the pork in a little bit of vegetable oil until cooked through. Drain on paper towels and allow to cool.
Cook your vermicelli until al dente. Drain and rinse with cool water. Drain again, really well.
In individual bowls, the bigger, the better, layer all your ingredients starting with the pasta, then the pickled veggies (drained), all the fresh veggies, the meat, and then the peanuts. Pour about 1/4 C of the chili sauce over all, or to taste. Toss and eat!
The pickled daikon and carrots are used in Vietnamese Banh Mi sandwiches. So while I've got a batch already made, my next project is going to be a homemade Banh Mi sandwich.
This is probably my favorite pasta dish. I've had it in restaurants with clams still in the shell, and this homemade version with the canned stuff. I vastly prefer not having to shuck my own seafood. Why work when you don't have to?
Linguine With White Clam Sauce
Makes 4 generous servings. Can stretch to 6.
1 lb linguine
2 TB EVOO
1/2 C finely chopped parsley
10 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 C whipping cream
1/4 C white wine
1 TB Worcestershire sauce
1/2 tsp garlic salt
1/4 tsp ground black pepper
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes, or more (1/2 tsp will have lots of bite)
4 - 6.5 oz cans chopped clams, drained and reserve juice from THREE cans
2 tsp fresh squeezed lemon juice
Grated Parmesan cheese, optional
Get the water for your pasta boiling.
In a large skillet, heat the EVOO over medium heat. Throw in the parsley and garlic and cook until the garlic starts to turn lightly brown. Be careful not to burn. Burned garlic is NOT pleasant.
Add linguine to your boiling water and give it a good stir.
Back to your skillet, add the reserved clam juice, cream, wine, Worcestershire sauce, garlic salt, black pepper and red pepper flakes. Let this simmer while your pasta cooks, stirring occasionally. The sauce will be thin.
When pasta is done, drain well. Put hot pasta back in the pot, and add your sauce, clam meat and the lemon juice. Gently toss all the ingredients together for a couple of minutes. The sauce will thicken a little as you work it.
Portion into bowls and serve immediately. Pass grated Parmesan for sprinkling on top.
This is so darn good, I made it twice in one week. And it's so easy, I don't even need to consult the recipe anymore. It's in my head. Forever and ever.
A compound butter is simply softened butter combined with other ingredients; in this case, cashews, because I really, really like cashews. But you can substitute walnuts, pecans, or peanuts.
I purposely do not add salt while preparing this recipe as the butter and cashews have plenty. Just have a shaker of salt handy for those who might need a little more to suit their personal tastes.
Penne in a Compound Butter Sauce
This will make 4 generous servings, and can stretch to 6.
6 TB butter, softened to room temperature
1/2 C roasted, salted cashews
3/4 lb penne pasta
2 lbs boneless, skinless chicken breast fillets
2 TB veggie oil
1 lb fresh asparagus
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes, or to taste
First make your compound butter. Place softened butter and cashews in a food processor or blender. Process until a nice paste forms, and the nuts are uniformly chopped. Alternatively, you can finely chop or crush the nuts by hand, and then combine them with the butter. Set aside the mixture, but don't refrigerate.
Trim your chicken boobs, then dice the chicken into bite-sized chunks. Chunking your chicken speeds up the cooking process considerably. Plus, you don't have that problem with the thinner 'tail' part of the fillet getting cooked and dried out before the thicker half is done. I hate that.
Snap off the fibrous ends on your asparagus. A surprise mouthful of woody, stringy, tough asparagus is truly disgusting. (I've had this happen to me in expensive restaurants, where the chef should know better.) Depending on the length, cut the stems into thirds or halves.
Get your pasta to boiling. While that is going, heat the veggie oil in a skillet and add your chicken chunks. Pan-fry until just about done, stirring often. Turn off the heat, cover, and let them finish cooking.
When you've got a couple of minutes left to go on your pasta, add your veggies to the boiling water.
Drain. Return the pasta and veggies to the pot, add the chicken, compound butter and red pepper flakes. Gently toss to coat. Serve hot.
So who's Anna Brown? Anna is my late mother-in-law. The Brown is a nod to Alton Brown of the Food Network's Good Eats program.
I love shrimp Creole, gumbo, jambalaya, etouffee, dirty rice and other staples of Louisiana cuisine. I don't love slaving over a hot stove trying to make a roux. The first time I tried my hand at gumbo, I burned the roux. A more seasoned cook would have known to throw it out and start over, but I thought the other ingredients would mask the burnt taste, so I doggedly kept on. Suffice it to say, it was awful. Even the shrimp were unpalatable, having cooked in eau de burnt flour. I wound up throwing out a very expensive meal and learned a valuable lesson: You want Creole or Cajun, go to a restaurant.
The second time I tried making a roux, I managed not to burn it, but it took darn near forever to achieve that dark caramel color. I was hot, cranky, aching from hunching over the stove, and was sporting some splatter burns on my hands and forearms from stirring the roux a little too vigorously; they don't call it Cajun napalm for nothing. I learned another valuable lesson: You want Creole or Cajun, go to a restaurant.
Then one afternoon, I was channel surfing and ran across a Good Eats episode wherein Alton Brown, in his scientifically foody way, was making gumbo. What riveted my attention was that Alton baked the roux. He whisked the oil and flour together in a Dutch oven, and then threw the whole mess into a pre-heated oven for 90 minutes. I had never heard of such a thing and was thusly, to coin an Alton-ism, immediately skeptical. No way could it be that easy. Still, I was intrigued enough to Google the recipe from the Food Network website, print it, and stick it in my recipe binder, where it sat until I was sufficiently motivated to try it.
This recipe, therefore, combines Alton's baked roux with my MIL's version of shrimp Creole. If, like me, you've made roux the old-fashioned way and are fed up with the constant stirring and bullets of hot floury grease, give this a try. I think you will be pleasantly surprised at how painless, figuratively and literally, making a roux can be. This is because oven heat is much gentler than the close, direct, in-your-face heat of the stove coils. Of course, there are those purists who will insist that no roux can truly be called a roux if you haven't given up a significant portion of your day making it. To each his own.
ANNA BROWN'S SHRIMP CREOLE
Feeds a crowd. Make the sauce a day ahead to give it time to season. Just before serving, heat it on the stove, add the shrimp, and cook through. If it's a little too thick, you can thin it with additional chicken broth.
2/3 C vegetable oil
2/3 C all-purpose flour
1 C chopped yellow onions
1 C chopped green onions (white and light green parts)
1 C chopped celery
1 C chopped green pepper
2 - 3 cloves garlic, minced
3 - 14 1/2 cans diced tomatoes with juice
1 - 8 oz can tomato sauce
1 - 6 oz can tomato paste
1 - 14 oz can chicken broth
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
1/2 tsp cayenne (add more for a kick)
2 - 3 bay leaves
1 TB lemon juice
1 tsp Worcestershire
1 tsp hot sauce
3 1/2 lbs of 21 - 25 ct raw shrimp, peeled and deveined
Hot cooked rice
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Make your roux. In a Dutch oven, whisk the veggie oil and flour together until smooth. Bake uncovered for 1 1/2 hours, stirring 2 or 3 times. While the roux bakes, chop your veggies, clean your shrimp, and prepare your other ingredients. You can actually multi-task while making a roux! Who'd a thunk it? My husband commented that the baking roux smelled like a roasting Thanksgiving turkey. It did, weirdly.
Place the Dutch oven on your stove and VERY CAREFULLY so you don't get splashed, add the holy trinity of Creole cuisine: your chopped pepper, onions and celery. Stir in your minced garlic.
Let your veggies and garlic cook for 15 minutes over medium low heat, stirring occasionally. Take care that your roux doesn't burn at this stage.
Add the remaining ingredients except the shrimp and rice. Bring to a boil, cover tightly, lower heat and simmer for an hour, stirring every now and then.
This recipe is almost as old as I am, maybe older. I remember my mother making it when I was a kid. I called it string meat because of the stringy texture of the roast after it's cooked. It's a very simple meal and hard to beat; it's prepared in a cooking bag which eliminates soaking and scouring your pan after. This recipe makes its own yummy gravy.
POT ROAST (or CHUCK ROAST WINNER DINNER, as it says on my mom's old recipe card)
Feeds a hungry hoard.
3 lbs chuck roast (the one pictured above was almost 3.5 lbs)
2 lbs small Yukon gold potatoes, scrubbed, keep skins on
1 lb bag "baby" carrots
1 lb button mushrooms, scrubbed, left whole (stems removed, if desired)
1 lg yellow onion, peeled, cut into thick rings and separated
2 cans cream of mushroom soup
1 envelope Lipton's onion soup mix
3 - 4 TB A-1 Steak Sauce
1 turkey-sized oven bag
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Prepare the oven bag according to package directions.
Place the bag in a large glass casserole dish, and place the meat in the center of the bag. Surround your roast with the potatoes, carrots, mushrooms and onions.
In a bowl, mix together the soups and steak sauce. Spoon the mixture over the meat. Close the bag tightly and snip vents in the top, if directed. Tuck in the sides and corners, and make sure your bag won't come into contact with the oven walls, door or heating elements when it expands.
Cook for 2 1/2 - 3 hours. The one above took 2 1/2.
Slice open the bag and remove the roast to a serving platter. Arrange veggies around the sides. Pour off the gravy into a gravy boat.
I got this recipe from a friend a couple of years ago. She and her husband, former neighbors of ours, own a vineyard in Round Mountain in the Texas hill country. They invited us and a bunch of other people down to their place one weekend for the annual hill country wine tour. Kareen served this baked version of the classic eggs Benedict for breakfast with a fruit salad and fried potatoes. I add toasted English muffins and Hollandaise sauce whenever I make this dish. It's very easy, and looks scrumptious when presented. The only catch is that due to the nature of the recipe, the yolks are a bit well done; not hard boiled, but not runny like a poached egg, either.
These are the first two layers: the Canadian bacon topped with Swiss cheese. Make a depression in the cheese with your fingers or the back of a spoon to help nest your eggs, no pun intended.
Crack each egg one at a time into a small bowl, being careful not to break the yolk. Then gently slide the egg into a depression. If these eggs are depressed, I guess you can't call their sunny side up. Yeah, I know. That was bad.
Here it is straight out of the oven. Let it set for just a minute or two before serving.
Now, ain't those aigs purty, Ma?
BAKED EGGS BENEDICT
Makes 12 servings.
12 Canadian bacon slices
8 oz shredded Swiss cheese
12 large eggs
1 C whipping cream
1/3 C grated Parmesan cheese
Toasted English muffin halves
Commercial Hollandaise sauce (such as Knorr-Swiss)
Dried parsley flakes
Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
Spray a large glass casserole dish with Pam or other cooking spray.
Start stacking: first the meat (do not overlap), then the Swiss cheese, then the eggs. Carefully pour the whipping cream around each stack. Sprinkle the Parmesan cheese evenly over the top. Lastly, a dash of paprika on each egg will close the deal.
Bake for 8 - 9 minutes. Check for doneness by gently shaking the casserole dish. If it jiggles, keep cooking. Check every minute until it no longer jiggles (much). In my oven, it takes about 11 minutes. Immediately remove and allow to set for a minute or two.
While your eggs are baking, prepare your Hollandaise sauce and finish it with a squeeze of lemon to add some brightness.
To serve, use a pancake turner to cut around and lift a stack (they lift out very easily). Place the stack on an English muffin half, and top with Hollandaise sauce. Sprinkle with parsley flakes and more paprika, if you like.
My father's ancestors on HIS father's side hail from Cornwall in England. They were miners who came to this country in the 1800's. My great-grandfather settled in a tiny little mining camp in the Colorado mountains called Silver Plume, not too far from Georgetown. I was told the name came from the way the silver ore formed "plumes" or feather-like deposits in the rock.
Cornish pasties (not to be confused with the nipple coverings worn by exotic dancers) are meat pies, and have been around, in one form or another, for centuries. They were popular with miners because they were a complete meal, didn't require utensils to eat, easily carried piping hot to work in the morning, and still warm and toasty by lunch time.
Traditional pasty recipes used a filling of uncooked beef, turnips, potatoes and onions. The filling was heaped on a thick pastry circle, folded over, and then crimped along one edge to seal everything inside. The crimped side made an ideal hand-hold that could be discarded if the miner's hands were dirty, or had been in contact with toxic compounds.
My great-uncle Stanley, whenever he came to visit us from California, would take over my mother's kitchen (and sanity) and spend one entire day preparing and baking Cornish pasties. He would make a dozen or more, and what wasn't eaten then and there, were frozen for later consumption. I loved them, and would eat them the way my ancestors ate them, with my bare, but clean, hands. Mother insisted on clean hands for every meal.
I have my uncle's recipe (his version includes pork, as well as beef). I tried it once, years and years ago, and of course the result wasn't anything like I remembered. The filling was easy, it was the pastry part that was hard; I just don't "get" pie crusts, or baking in general, and I don't expect I ever will. Also, it took all day, and made a humongous mess.
So, to get my occasional pasty fix, I adapted the recipe into a much easier pie form, using store-bought pie crusts, and omitting the beef and the turnips. It lacks the thick, meaty, rustic texture of the real thing, but I'm just not THAT devoted of a cook.
THE LAZY COOK'S CORNISH "PASTIES"
Makes two deep-dish pies.
2 lbs ground pork
1 yellow onion, chopped
2 tsp dried thyme
1 1/2 tsp salt
1 - 32 oz bag frozen Southern Style potatoes
1 - 12 oz bag frozen crinkle cut carrots, partially cooked according to package directions*
1 C water
3 TB flour
2 pkgs ready made pie crusts (4 pie crusts)
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
In a large skillet, cook and crumble pork with onion, thyme and salt until no pink remains. Drain the meat, reserving the drippings. Place the meat in a bowl, and return drippings to the skillet.
Add the potatoes and carrots to the drippings in the skillet. Cook, stirring occasionally until potatoes are cooked through and a light golden color. While potatoes cook, whisk water with flour and stir into meat. (You can eliminate the water/flour step, but this helps to hold the filling a bit so it doesn't fall out when serving.)
When potatoes are done, add the meat back into the skillet and stir until everything is thoroughly mixed. Allow mixture to cool just a bit.
Bring the pie crusts to room temperature. Unroll one crust into bottom of ungreased deep-dish pie plate. Place half of meat/potato mixture on top, and then cover with a second pie crust. Trim the crusts along the plate edge with a knife or kitchen shears. Pinch the edges together into a decorative scallop, or simply press down with the tines of a fork. Make the second pie with remaining crusts and filling.
Whisk your egg with a bit of water, and brush the egg wash lightly over the tops. Perforate the tops with three or four steam vents.
Bake immediately until the tops are a golden brown. You may wish to cover the edges of the pies with foil so they don't get burned. Allow pies to sit for a few minutes before slicing.
*You may cook the carrots all the way through, according to package directions. I prefer my carrots to have a little crunch, and so I only partially cook them.
'Ave a 'appy nosh,
Top left: http://www.yourhomebasedmom.com/cornish-pasty-meat-potato-pie/
"I am not
a glutton; I am an explorer of food." How I miss Erma Bombeck!