Saturday, April 11, 2009

Lamb Pie

Savory pies with meat and vegetables contents are good to serve at any meal of the day. Encassed inside a flaky pie crust or pate brisee, the meat may be of chicken, beef or lamb and the varieties of vegetables like peas, carrot, potato and celery complements the meat with additional texture and flavor.

The emphasis is more on the pie crust that should smell freshly baked and flaky with a nice brown appearance, preluding as an expectation of moist and plump filling. After all the bad news about trans-fat and its effect on the health, I seldom use vegetable shortening in any of my bakings. I find that the shortening tends to give a flakier crust but butter has more flavor and smells good. As with all things butter and flour, the pie dough must be rested well in the fridge to let the flour develop gluten and until today, I still prefer to blend my pie crust with fingers rather than the food processor. The point is to coat the flour with the butter completely with air incorporated and the cold water is just a binding factor that brings the ingredients together but not too much as to make the dough too wet and soggy.

It took me sometime to make and complete this pie. Firstly, I made the pie dough, using double crust recipe and let it rest in the fridge while I continued to cook the lamb with potatoes and carrots by simmering them in beef broth for more than 1 hour to get the meat tender before piling it into the pie dough. The bottom part of the pie crust was baked first so that it is firm enough to contain the moisture of the meat and vegetables filling. The filling was left to cool to room temperature and spooned into the baked pie shell and encassed with the remaining pie dough. I left the half baked pie in the fridge overnight so that the top part dough can rest and firm up. One thing I learned from my numerous tries on pie making is that the prepared pie should be taken out from the fridge straight into the hot oven for baking and this will definitely yield a successful flaky and perfect crust. Egg wash was applied both before and during the baking to get the beautiful color.

This pie was made for our Easter celebration and I made some cut outs from left over dough with my mini cookie cutters which represents spring time and April showers that is forecasted on this year's Easter day. As there was extra dough and filling, I made a small individual sized pie for tasting prior to the party. I used the simmering broth to make some gravy for the pie and by itself, the filling retained its moisture during the baking.
Ingredients :

1.5 lbs lamb meat, cut into small chunks
2 red potatoes, peeled and cut into small chunks
2 carrots, cut into small chunks
1/2 onion, sliced
4 cloves garlic, minced
Juice of 2 lemon
1 tbsp minced rosemary
1 tsp cumin powder
2 tsp salt
1 tsp black pepper
14 oz (1 can) beef broth

Pie crust :
2 sticks butter (8 oz) , softened
2-1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 tsp salt
5 tbsp cold water
1 egg white, beaten
1 egg yolk


Filling :
1)Marinate the lamb meat with salt, pepper, half of the minced rosemary, cumin, lemon juice and 3 tbsp cooking oil for at least 3 hours.
2)Heat 2 tbsp cooking oil in pot and add in the onion and garlic. Saute for 2mins, adding a little water. Add in the remaining minced rosemary and stir to mix.
3)Add in the lamb meat and stir to coat with the onion, rosemary and garlic. Close lid and let cook for 5 mins.
4)Pour in the beef broth and bring to a boil. Cover lid and lower the heat to medium and simmer for 35 mins.
5)Stir in the potatoes and carrots. Let simmer futher for 15 mins till both vegetable is slightly soft but not too cooked.
6)Mix 1 tbsp corn flour with 3 tbsp water and stir into the lamb mixture. When the sauce starts to thicken, turn off heat and let filling cool to room temperature. Spoon out the meat and vegetable filling from the sauce and save the sauce to make gravy.
7)To make gravy, drain the sauce from all fillings and add additional cornstarch and cook over heat to thicken the consistency.

Pie Crust :

1)Sift the flour and salt into a large bowl.

2)Cut the soft butter into small chunks and using hands, rub it into the flour. Raise both hands up high during the working of the butter and flour to incorporate more air. Be sure to retain cold hands and don't over combine. Aim for Crumb texture.

3)Starting from 1 tbsp each time, add cold water to combine and gather the ingredients to a ball. The dough cannot be too dry nor too wet. Divide the dough into 2 equal size pieces and Place inside a plastic baggie and rest in the fridge for at least 2 hours.

4)Preheat oven to 375F. Take 1 piece of the dough and Let it rest at room temperature till it is malleable and roll into a round shape to fit an 8 inch pie dish. Pierce the dough and use pie weights to bake for 10 mins. Remove pie weights and continue to bake for 15 mins. Turn off heat and let it stay in the oven for a further 5 mins. Remove and let cool on rack.

5)Spoon the cooled meat and vegetable filling into the baked pie shell. Spread out evenly.

6)Take out the remaining pie dough and let sit at room temperature till malleable. Roll out to a circle, larger than the 1st one. Brush the egg white around the rim of the bottom baked pie shell and place the new pie dough on top of the filling. Tuck in the rims to join the top and bottom of the pie shell.

7)Take the remaining egg white and mix into the egg yolk. Put aside. Let the pie rest in the fridge for at least 1 hour to firm up the upper dough.

8)Preheat oven to 425F. Brush the pie with the egg wash and bake for 25 mins. Take out and brush again with egg wash and return to oven to finish off baking for 15 mins. Turn off heat and let sit in the oven for a further 5 mins. Serve warm with gravy and salad.

Serves : 6 to 8 persons

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