The holidays are upon us. In America, we just celebrated Thanksgiving (as well as Hanukkah for those who celebrate it), and this means leftovers. So many leftovers. At this time, there are always posts throughout the internet about what to do with leftover turkey, leftover ham. At Yuletide, my tradition has been to do roast beef and Yorkshire pudding, and given that there’s always leftover beef, I now have an option for that. However, what I’ll be discussing right now is what to do with leftover pie crust.
What’s that? How could anyone possibly have leftover pie crust?
Well, the recipe I mostly use to make pie crust (not the one in the Chicken Mushroom Pie post back from Burns’ Night two years ago) makes enough dough to have one pie with a bottom and top crust, and when you cut away the excess around the pie pan, there’s enough left over to roll out for another bottom crust. My original intention was to bake something like a buttermilk pie since I have leftover buttermilk, too, from something else I’d baked recently, but instead, I had the notion to do individual meat pies for the Roommate and me. She’s also been after me to make homemade beef stew since I never had (and since our one-time staple, Dinty Moore beef stew, has begun tasting a little on the funky side, so I thought — “I have steaks in the freezer and the veggies for it. It can’t be that hard!”
Well, I was right. It wasn’t hard at all, darlings.
Use the recipe for the pie crust from the Buttermilk Pie post. More than likely, you’ve already made this crust, and now you’ve got the excess that was cut away when you made some sort of pie with top and bottom crust. You can take that excess dough and put it into a freezer bag and then into the freezer until you’re ready to use it. When you are, take it down from the freezer at least an hour before you need it. This will ensure that it’s completely defrosted and pliable to roll out.
Steak; for this, I used a ribeye steak about an inch or two thick, with all the fat cut away from it.
2 cups Beef stock/broth
Maggi, 2-3 drops
Browning sauce, 2-3 drops
Carrots, 1-2 small bags of baby carrots, chopped into smaller pieces
Celery, one stalk chopped up
1-2 small potatoes, peeled, chopped into small chunks
Salt and pepper to taste
Thyme, 1-2 pinches for taste
1. Heat the oven to 425ºF. Take a cookie sheet and cover it with aluminum foil and spray lightly with Pam.
2. Prep all your ingredients. Now, your veggie choice may vary depending on your preferences, but whatever they are, you want to cut them into small pieces. Keep in mind that whether you’re doing a full meat pie in a pie pan or the small rustic ones like I did, you want bite-sized pieces of both veggies and meat so that you don’t have to waste a lot of time with a knife while you’re eating.
So essentially, dice up your peeled, uncooked potatoes (for these, I really recommend no more than 2 small potatoes), your carrots, onion, and celery, and put it all into a bowl and set aside. Something else you can add (that I considered but didn’t this time) is chopped mushrooms.
3. Prep your broth for the stew. Now, this is how my ex taught me how to make brown gravy, and it serves as a fantastic stock for beef stew as well. For this, I use the Knorr Caldo powder, about two tablespoons of the powder in two cups of hot water, stirred until it’s completely blended. Add in drops of Maggi and the drops of browning sauce and stir until you’ve got a nice, dark brown color. Keep in mind that Maggi and the browning sauce are salty (as is the broth), so you really don’t need to add anymore salt to the stew except maybe a tiny pinch for the meat itself.
4. Time to prep your steak. Now, I really recommend using steak, and a good quality of steak, to the already chopped up “stew meat” that you can buy in your grocery store’s meat department, and here’s why. Stew meat comes from who knows what cut of meat, it’s always run through with fat, and without fail when I’ve had it, it’s as tough as trouble to chew on Colossus’ finger while he’s in metal form. Seriously, do yourself a favor and buy some quality cut steaks. Cut away all of the fat (or as much as possible) then tenderize the hell out of the meat on both sides. Cut it up into chunks and set into a bowl to the side with the veggies.
5. Now it’s time to start constructing your stew. Take your sauce pan (big enough to handle all the veggies and meat and broth) and over a medium-high heat, melt 2-3 tbsp butter. Once all of that is melted, add in the veggies and stir around until they’re all coated in the butter. Stir several times until they begin to cook and soften even a little. Next add in the meat and stir around until it’s all mixed in with the veggies. You don’t want to overcook the meat, so it’s okay that it won’t be cooked when you add in the liquid.
6. Add in a cup and a half of the liquid to the pan and stir. This is where you add in the extra salt if you want it, the black pepper, and the thyme. The broth should still be warm from blending it with the hot water, and to the remaining half a cup, add in 2-3 tablespoons of flour and whisk until the flour is blended completely with the liquid so that there are no lumps. Once the stew is boiling a little in the sauce pan, add in the rest of the liquid with the flour and stir so that the stew will thicken. Since you’re adding this as a filling for meat pies, you want it to be fairly thick.
7. Once the stew has thickened and has the flavor you want, turn the heat down to a low setting, preferably the lowest. At this point, turn your attention to your pie dough. Now as I said, once your leftover pie dough is thawed, set up your surface for rolling and your pie mat, which you should lightly flour to make sure rolling it out will be easy. Take the pie dough and break it in half and roll into two balls. Flatten one with your hand then roll it out until it’s thin as you would for any pie you were making. Set it onto the cookie sheet, add 2-4 spoonfuls of the stew (depending on how big the spoon is!), then fold over the dough until the stew has been sealed inside. Repeat the process with the second dough ball. Now I’m sure there are ways to close this up and seal it in a way to make it prettier. I’m going to go through this process several times until I stumble on it, but these are rustic meat pies, so they don’t have to be Martha Stewart perfect.
8. I suppose if you wanted to, you could brush an egg wash or even a melted butter wash across the tops of these, and I thought about it but decided not to this time. Once the rustic pies are sealed up, place them into the oven for 20-30 minutes (these took about 22 minutes) or until the crust is a light golden brown. Remove from the oven and use a spatula to place them onto your plates. The Pam sprayed beforehand will keep them from sticking, and yes, the stew inside will probably bubble out a little. This is okay.
9. These are going to be very hot on the inside, so let the pie cool just a little before chomping down on them. You want to enjoy these while they’re hot but don’t burn your mouth! I recommend a good watching of A Christmas Carol (if you’re making this during the holiday season) or even Sweeney Todd (if you’ve got a strong stomach and a sick sense of humor like me).