Thursday, September 2, 2010

Pot Roasts and Pies...the meal that keeps on giving.

I'm a pot roast kind of girl....I love to put a roast into the crock pot, whether it's a beef roast, or a pork roast or even a leg of lamb, I love the simple practice of slow (and I mean sloooooow) cooking. Typically, my pot roasts cook for a minimum of 8 hours, sometimes more. I sometimes sear the meat first, sometimes not, but I always add salt and pepper to the roast, using garlic salt, usually. I then add a can of ready made gravy (whatever type for the roast I'm making, beef, port, whatever) and water to the pot, along with fresh herbs like rosemary and thyme. I also add some onions, very roughly chopped and a couple cloves of garlic and a couple bay leaves. Sometimes I add potatoes and carrots to it, sometimes not...whatever I happen to be feeling or whatever the pantry has.

But the BEST thing about pot roasts, is that there is almost always leftovers! Last night I took the leftover pork roast (from the night before) and quickly cooked some chopped potatoes, onions, celery and carrot in the microwave (we hadn't put vegetables into this particular pot roast, as we were having risotto with it). There was some leftover broccoli, so I chopped that up as well.

Then....I made my foolproof pie crust...that's right, I said FOOLPROOF! This pie crust is SO easy, and SO quick to make you won't believe it. It works for any pies, be they pot pies like I was making last night, or fruit pies. The recipe is from Martha Stewart, and while it calls for a food processor, I have also made the recipe by hand (using a pastry cutter), or even with a hand mixer. It makes enough crust for a 2 crust pie, but you could always half the recipe, or freeze the half you don't need if you're making a one crust pie.

Pie Crust
2 1/2 c. all purpose flour
1 tsp salt
1 tsp. sugar
1 c. (2 sticks) of unsalted butter, chilled and cut into small pieces
1/4 to 1/2 c. ice water.

In the bowl of the food processor, combine flour, salt and sugar. Add butter and process until the mixture resembles coarse meal, 8 to 10 seconds.

With machine running, add ice water in a slow steady stream through the feed tube. Pulse until dough holds together without being wet or sticky; be careful not to process more than about 30 seconds. To test, squeeze a small amount together. if it's crumbly, add more ice water, 1 T. at a time.

Divide dough into two equal balls. Flatten each ball into a disk, and wrap in plastic (this allows it to chill faster and makes it easier to roll out.) Transfer to the refrigerator, and chill at least 1 hour. Dough may be stored, frozen, up to 1 month.

Sometimes, if the dough seems a bit "stubborn" on rolling out (if it's too cold or just not pliable enough) I form it back into a ball-like shape after removing it from the fridge and begin the rolling again. This seems to work out better, on those days when it doesn't seem to want to cooperate.

Always egg wash the tops of your two crust pies. It makes them shiny and BEEEYOOTIFUL!! They look like the pies you see in magazines. Just scramble up an egg and brush it on the top of the pie. You may want to shield it with foil for the first 15 minutes or so of baking, so that it doesn't brown TOO quickly, but then remove the foil and you will end up with a golden beautiful pie (which will have a VERY flaky crust).

After placing the bottom pie crust into the pie plate, I then added all the chopped ingredients, meat and vegetables. I then poured the leftover gravy over all, dotted with a few squares of unsalted butter (always do this for your pies, fruit or otherwise) and topped with the remaining pie crust. After egg washing I put it into a 350 oven for about 45 minutes to an hour.

You can use this pie crust recipe for a lot of things, though...not just leftover pot roast! I sometimes make it, roll out one of the disks and just cover it with sugar and cinnamon. After dotting it with butter, I roll it tightly and place it into a 350 oven for about 45 minutes. Don't egg wash this though, because it can cause it to cook too quickly on the outside before the inside gets done (I think it's because it's so tightly rolled. In any case, my girls love this "cinnamon roll" for an after school snack. I've even done it (on a smaller scale) with the leftover crusts after rolling out and assembling a pie.

So have fun, bake a pie, whether it's for a meal or dessert.

Today's food quote: "There has always been a food processor in the kitchen. But once upon a time she was called "The Missus" or "Mom". Sue Berkman, author.

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