Thursday, October 17, 2013

Beef Empanada Pot Pie

When posting another of my husband’s favorite recipes, I referred to my great aunt’s bridal shower advice to cook my new husband’s favorite meal every once in a while as a surprise. Well, I don’t really do surprises so well, and I’m always trying new recipes, so I was in danger of neglecting that very good advice. I recently devised a list of several favorite recipes, however, and I’m trying to make one of those recipes each week. Some are simple (thank goodness for simple tastes!), but some, like this Beef Empanada Pot Pie, require a little more forethought and preparation.

This is a rich and savory pot pie, originally from the pages of Cooking Light magazine. I’m afraid I may have “un-lightened” it somewhat, adding more flour to a filling that I though was too runny and adding more olives. (I wish “light” didn’t have to mean skimping on the olives.) This makes a big stew with a flavorful crust that can feed us most of the week if we let it. It’s very beefy, but there are also a lot of diced potatoes that make the filling very, well, filling.

Speaking of those potatoes, I highly recommend cutting them into very small chunks so they cook through and aren’t unpleasantly hard. I used thin-skinned potatoes this time around, and they only needed to be scrubbed, but you can peel yours if you wish. Actually I had made this potpie just a week before I made the one in these photos, which is an unprecedented level of repeat around here, but it wasn’t until I got it into the oven, crust and all, that I realized that I had left the potatoes out entirely. I hadn’t even cleaned and chopped them. Total neglect. (The pot pie was actually very good without them, really, but it didn’t stretch to as many servings without the potatoes’ extra bulk.)

This is a delicious meal, and, although I can’t handle quite so much beef, nor as large a serving as my husband, I like it almost as much as he does. It’s like a stewy-er version of a perky, savory, slightly spicy empanada with an empanada crust on top rather than enfolding the filling. I reserve it for meals in the colder months, since it requires some hot oven time and is so filling and hearty. Since the colder days seem to be here to stay for a while, Beef Empanada Pot Pie goes on the “Deserving Husband’s Favorites” list for a while. I can’t help it if I really enjoy this one, too.

Other recipes from the archives on the “Deserving Husband’s Favorites” list:

Italian Chickpeas
Soup Beans
Spaghetti Pie
Beef and Guinness Pot Pie


Beef Empanada Pot Pie
Adapted from Cooking Light magazine

I use the dark Mexican beer, Negra Modello, for this pot pie. I also usually use a fairly lean ground beef and do not feel I need to drain any fat after browning it. If yours is less lean, you can drain some of it off before adding the vegetables to the pot.

for the crust:
1 cup all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon ground cumin
½ teaspoon chili powder
¼ teaspoon fine salt
¼ cup cold butter, cut into small pieces
3-5 tablespoons ice water
1 tablespoon cider vinegar

for the filling:
1 pound ground beef
1 ½ pounds diced potato, peeled if desired (about 4 cups)
1 cup chopped onion
½ cup chopped bell pepper
2 large garlic cloves, minced
1 small fresh chile pepper, minced
1 ½ teaspoons dried oregano
1 ½ teaspoons chili powder
1 teaspoon ground cumin
½ teaspoon fine salt
½ cup all-purpose flour
½ cup beer (I use a dark Mexican beer)
1 (10.5 ounce) can beef consommé
1 (14.5 ounce) can diced tomatoes
¼ cup chopped green olives (pimiento-stuffed are fine)
1 tablespoon cider vinegar

1. To make the crust: combine the flour, cumin, chili powder and salt in the bowl of a food processor. Pulse to combine. Add the butter and process until the butter is in very small, flour-coated pieces.

2. Add the vinegar and about 3 tablespoons ice water. Pulse until the mixture just begins to come together in a ball, adding more water as needed.

3. Turn out the dough onto a surface lined with a large sheet of plastic wrap. Press mixture gently into a rectangle and cover with another sheet of plastic wrap. Roll the dough between the plastic wrap sheets into an oval or rectangle roughly the size of the dish you plan on using to make the potpie, about 12 inches by 8 inches. Refrigerate until ready to use.

4. Preheat oven to 400 F. Place the ground beef in a very large pot or Dutch oven over medium heat. Cook until the meat is browned. Drain excess fat from the meat if desired and return the meat to the pan.

5. Add the onion, bell pepper and potato. Cook about 10 minutes or until the onions and peppers are tender. Add the chile and garlic and cook about 30 seconds more. Stir in the oregano, chili powder, cumin and salt. Add the flour and cook, stirring for about 1 minute.

6. Add the beer and scrape the browned bits from the bottom of the pan. Add the beef consommé and tomatoes. Cook, stirring often, for a few minutes or until the liquid has thickened. Stir in the olives and cider vinegar.

7. Pour the mixture into a deep casserole dish, approximately 11 inches by 7 inches. (I used a 3-quart oval casserole.) Remove the plastic wrap from one side of the crust. Place that side of the crust down onto the filling. Remove the remaining sheet of plastic wrap. Fit the crust to the sides of the dish, folding over as needed. With a sharp knife, make 3-4 slashes in the crust.

8. Bake at 400 for 35 minutes or until the crust is golden brown and the filling is bubbly. Cool 10 minutes before serving. Cover and refrigerate leftovers for re-heating.

Makes 6-8 servings.

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