Thursday, November 17, 2011

Her Soul Crawled Out From Its Hiding Place

One of my favorite books is Zora Neale Hurston's Their Eyes Were Watching God. Janie, the main character, goes through a couple of rough marriages and relationships before she finally meets the man she is meant to be with - Tea Cake. Janie starts wearing blue, because for the first time in her life, someone she loves has expressed a preference for what she wears: "Tea Cake love me in blue, so Ah wears it."

I have a point, I promise.

I never was too interested in experimenting in the kitchen. My mind is definitely filled with awesome memories of decorating cookies at the holidays with my mom and sister, and I certainly always enjoyed eating the delicious food my mom put on the table, but I wasn't ever that inspired to whip something up myself.

That all changed when I met Mike.

The old saying about the way to a man's heart being through his stomach? Yeah, you can say that again.

I quickly learned that the surest way to bring a smile to Mike's face was to present him with food. And I don't know about you, but when I discover I have the ability to bring joy to someone I love - well, I'm gonna bring it. It started off simple, usually involving fifteen phone calls to my mom from the aisles in the grocery store to make sure I was buying the right ingredients. And sandwiches. Lots and lots of sandwiches.

One day, I stumbled across the Food Network and happened to catch an episode of Rachael Ray's "Thirty Minute Meals". That, my friends, is what I like to call a game changer. Because I found her website, and then my mom bought me a few of her cookbooks (perhaps to avoid all the annoying phone calls?), and I subscribed to her magazine, and before I knew it Rach had me exploring the worlds of Italian parsley and EVOO and all things Yum-o! Full disclosure here - while I love her cookbooks and her magazine and often look recipes up on her website, I have a really, really hard time watching her on television. I know she has lots of haters, but the girl expanded my cooking horizons by about a million, so I give her props, even if I can't stand the sound of her voice.

And then she published a recipe for a beef and cheddar pie in her magazine, and the angels sang and Mike's stomach did a happy dance and the circle was complete.

This recipe, for what we now call "meat pie", probably gets requested the most when I ask Mike what he would like for dinner - if anything, it's a close second to BLTs (see - back to the sandwiches!). When I first invited our friends the Mansours over for dinner, this was on the menu. And, no joke, Mike said to me, "Wait. I have to share my meat pie with strangers?" And the last time I made this, again no joke, he told me that when he dies he would like to be buried in meat pie.

So now, I would like to share the recipe with you. It's definitely not healthy, although I suppose you could reduce the amount of cheese and use ground turkey or chicken instead of beef. It is delicious, though. If you don't believe me, just ask Mike.

Meat Pie

2 pounds ground beef
2 carrots, cut into 1/4-inch cubes
1 large onion, cut into 1/4-inch cubes
2 stalks celery, cut into 1/4-inch cubes
1 large clove garlic, finely chopped
1 large baking potato, peeled and cut into 1/4-inch cubes
1/2 cup dark beer - I've used Newcastle and Bell's Best Brown, anything in your fridge will work
8 ounces sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
Salt and pepper
2 sheets frozen puff pastry, thawed but cold
1 large egg yolk, beaten with 1 tablespoon water

1. Preheat the oven to 375. Once you have all the veggies chopped up (for me, this is the longest/most annoying part), throw them into a big skillet with the meat. Over medium-high heat, break up the meat with a wooden spoon and stir everything up until the meat is no longer pink and some of the liquid has evaporated, probably about 15 minutes.

Lower the heat to medium, and then add your beer. Let that cook for about 10 minutes.

Throw in the cheese, 2 teaspoons of salt, and 1/2 teaspoon of pepper. Give it a good stir, and then remove from heat and let cool. 

2. On a floured surface, roll out one of the puff pastry sheets so it's about 12 inches round. Place it on a deep-dish pie plate or a 10-inch oven-proof skillet. I use a skillet - I tried the first time to use just a regular pie dish (not deep) and it didn't all fit. I've also used a 9x9 Pyrex, but for me the skillet is the way to go.

Roll the second piece of pastry into an 11-inch round. Using a slotted spoon, scoop the meat mixture into the skillet. 

Lightly brush the edge of the crust with some of the egg wash, then put the second sheet on top. Crimp the edges together, and trim them if you need to.

3. Put the whole pie on a baking sheet. Brush the top with more of the egg wash, and cut an "x" in the middle. You can also get a little fancy here and cut out some shapes with your leftover pastry. Sprinkle it liberally with more salt and pepper. 

Bake for 45 minutes. I usually check it about halfway and throw some foil on top if it's starting to get too dark. Let it rest for about 15 minutes, and you are ready to enjoy!

I try to serve this with a salad, but Mike usually laughs it off as he's asking for seconds. It's also really good heated up as leftovers the next day - if you have any!

Even Anna gives her seal of approval.

Oh yeah - the original recipe can be found here.

I hope you enjoy!

Happy Friday!

What recipes do you make to bring it? Please share!


  1. Mmmmmmmmm....meat pie is so delicious. When we ate that at your place Michael asked if I could make that the next day! Glad you posted this soni can tr it put this week!

    P.S. So funny we never talked about this but I love Rachael Ray recipes and HATE her on TV too. Her voice and mannerisms bother me. I watch her on mute until she gets to the recipes at the end of her show

  2. Leslie, that looked fantastic! I also have some Rachael Ray cookbooks but she is a whole lot take when trying to watch her shows. 30 minute meals doesn't get much air time here in Canada but her talk show is on every time I turn the tv on!

    The favorite dish around the Cossettini/Bellamy house is what started out as me making Ratatouille and over the years has sort of morphed into my own version of it. So tasty!

  3. Hmmmmm for parties, I usually make a baked spinach artichoke dip that rivals anything I've ever had a restaurant. The secret is alfredo sauce :)

    And then, of course, I copy your cake balls recipe! Love your blog and recipes! Keep them coming!!!!!

    P.S. With family in town around the holidays, I tried a baked pumpkin french toast the other day. Delicious!!!