Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Old Time: Biscuit-topped Beef Pot Pie

Poetry is the synthesis of hyacinths and biscuits. – Carl Sandburg 

An old time favourite, and easy to make.
Cold, damp days call for drastic measures. By drastic measures I mean one must dust off old cookbooks, or the cobwebby corners of one’s mind.

This makes enough for 4 hungry people. 2 biscuits each.
It’s days like this that beg for recipes from the past – those comfort foods that bring back memories of when we were young, and safe and protected.

That’s what good comfort food recipes conjure. Memories of safety and protection. Times when we didn’t have to worry about things. For a few shining moments we can cast off our worry and just feel “good.”

Some parts of the province received nearly 100 mm of rain on Tuesday – and as I write it isn’t over. I remember meals like this wafting their aromas through the house on days just like this. Foul days – chilly, damp and sunless.

Did you know you can find rays of sunshine inside a pot?

I remember two versions of this dish: beef and chicken. When I went to the grocery store I already had some leftover chicken in the refrigerator. But I saw beef on sale yesterday so things changed. (You know me and a sale…)

I won’t belabour this post talking about memories from when I grew up and my home village. You get enough of that in other posts. I’ll just get to the recipe, with three further comments.

First, if using chicken, use the same amount of meat (cubed) but substitute chicken stock for the beef stock. You can also do half chicken stock and half milk. I wouldn’t recommend the milk substitution if using beef.

In a pinch you can cut fat into pastry using two dinner knives.
Second, the biscuits. I was quite impressed with them. They were very flavourful and flaky. That says a lot especially because they are cooked on top of bubbling liquid. You would expect them to be wetter.

These were not. The secret? Never overwork your biscuit dough. Just bring it together and no more. You could substitute shortening for the lard if you wished, but I find lard always works better in pastry.

Third – I’ve been packing. If you’ve been reading my blog you’ll know that I am in the process of getting ready to sell my house. Ergo, I’ve been putting stuff in storage. One thing I packed away was the pastry cutter. I needed it for the biscuits. Then I remembered an alternate way my Dad showed me.

You just take two dinner knives and drag them across each other (and through the lard or shortening). It actually doesn’t take long to cut in the lard in this way. I had almost forgotten you could do it. Old time trick for an old time recipe. A perfect way to end my blather.

And now, the two recipes.

This round dish held 8 biscuits. A square 9x9 will hold 9.
Biscuit-topped Beef Pot Pie
Prep: 20 min  |  Bake: 25 min  |  Serves 4
3 medium potatoes, peeled and diced
1 cup carrots, diced
1/3 cup butter
1 pound beef, cubed
1 medium onion
1 cup frozen green peas
1/3 cup flour
1 tsp rubbed sage
1 tsp dry mustard powder
1 tsp cracked black pepper
1/2 tsp salt
2 cups beef broth
Parsley biscuit topping (see below)

Preheat the oven to 450°F.

Peel and chop the carrots and potatoes into 1/2" pieces. Place in a saucepan with enough water to cover. Add some salt and let boil until cooked, about 12 minutes. Drain and set aside.

Cube the beef into 1" pieces. Melt the butter in a wide saucepan and add the onion and beef. Add salt and all the pepper. Sauté until the beef is no longer pink. Sprinkle with the flour and mix well.

Add the drained vegetables and peas. Then add the beef broth.

Place the beef mixture in an oven proof dish, about 9” wide – either round or square.

Make the parsley biscuit dough and divide into 8-9 flat patties (depending on the shape of your pan). Eight will top a round pan, nine will top a square pan (3 rows of 3).

Bake for 25-30  minutes, or until the biscuit topping is golden brown and filling is bubbly. Cool for 10 minutes before serving.

These were good biscuits...
Parsley biscuits
Prep: 10 min
1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tbsp baking powder
3 teaspoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup lard
1 egg
1/3 cup milk
1/3 cup Italian parsley, chopped

In a small bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, sugar and salt. Mix well. Cut in the lard until the mixture resembles peas. Then add the parsley and toss to combine.

Beat the egg with the milk and pour over the flour and lard. Mix together with a fork until the liquid is no longer visible. Then knead with your hands until just brought together – not a second more. The dough will be very soft and shaggy.

Divide into 8-9 balls (depending on your dish size) and flatten each into a patty. Arrange on top of the beef pot pie.

Alternately, the dough could be patted into a flat and rounds cut out and baked without the pie. I would suggest 450°F for about 20-30 minutes. Check at 20.


If you like this post retweet it using the link at top right, or share it using any of the links below. Questions? Comments? Derogatory remarks?

No comments:

Post a Comment