Sunday, 20 January 2013

Red in the Plate!

Torta Salata di Carne Macinata Speziata, Barbabietola Rossa & Zenzero
Ground Meat, Beetroot, Spice & Ginger Pie

Ok- I am going to give you a word of advice in advance with this one, especially if you have a white kitchen like I do. Grab a firm hold of those beets when you start grating them for this dish! I certainly was seeing red- in more ways than one, when the slippery customer flew from my hand across 3 cabinets, leaving a lovely magenta smear in its wake. Oh- and don't wear a white shirt either! 

But apart from this obvious warning, I have to say that this combination of beet and meat was pretty delicious! I had just less than a quarter pound of ground, mixed beef and pork left over from last nights meatball dish- enough maybe to make a decent burger... or better still, to make this individual sized pie- full of flavor and much more exciting! This was wonderful piping hot, but would be perfect for a party or to serve up in slices as an appetizer...

This was very quick and easy to make- the only mess I made was on one cutting board, one dish and in one frying pan- and it was all finished in just 45 minutes- so that's already reason enough to like this one- as well as the great flavor of course! 

I started off by frying the ground meat, with no added fat, along with a finely chopped Spring onion and a crushed clove of garlic in a non-stick frying pan. I then grated 2 pre-cooked beetroot into the frying pan and about 1" of ginger. Of course if you have some kitchen gadget to do the grating for you- you can cut-down on your cleaning bills!

I then added cumin and fennel seeds, salt, pepper and a little chili, as well as a little grated orange zest. I sautéed everything together until the meat was thoroughly cooked, the onion was soft and the beets well integrated into the mix- it took 10 minutes at the most. You don't want to over-cook the meat or it will end up being too dry- actually, that was what gave me the idea of adding the beets in the first place- to make the filling more juicy... as well as more colorful and tasty!

Obviously, the filling had to cool down a little before I could fill my pie, so I set it onto a dish to cool and got the pan ready for its second job- that's right- I baked my little pie on the pan! As it was non-stick, it didn't even need cleaning- but obviously if your pan does need cleaning... now is the time! 

I cut out my 2 saucer-sized circles of store-bought puff pastry and as soon as the pan and the meat filling had cooled off got busy with assembling the pie. I spooned the filling onto the base of the dough, leaving a good edge of at least an inch all around, then placed the other circle on top and pressed down the edges, all the way around, using a fork. I did this right in the pan... no tricky lifting- no worries! And then I put my frying pan on the stove top and turned my oven  up high.

The reason for using the pan is simple- it gives you good and direct heat to the base- which makes it firm up and cook first and therefore prevents it getting soggy and simply soaking up the juices of the filling- which is what puff pastry tends to do. There is so much butter in puff pastry, that before the actual baking begins, the butter melts and the dough almost liquifies for a minute or two- you will be able to observe this whilst its on your stove top. You will see the bottom sheet of pastry first become translucent and then begin, slowly but surely to puff up. At this point, I wrapped some foil around the handle of my frying pan, then pushed it into the oven for 10 minutes for the lid of the pie to bake... this happens pretty quickly!

And there you have it- a fun and easy to make supper, snack or party treat! I hope you will be seeing red as well sometime soon... it's fun as long as it's in the pie and not on your shirt!

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