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Spiced Meat Pie with Preserved Lemon Lentils

_We had mince defrosted and I didn’t feel like making the usual pasta bake or “nachos”:http://degroot.id.au/recipes/2006/03/07/chili-con-carne/ so I figured I’d make something with pastry. My orginal idea was to make some meat filled pastry cigars that I’d seen mention of online from some people who’d had them in Morocco. However, I didn’t have a decent Moroccan pastry recipe, so I settled on a pie._

_However, as is usual for me, any old pie wouldn’t do. I decided the pastry should include some non-wheat flour, and since I didn’t have any, I made some in my large mortar and pestle. A note for the intrepid, grinding dried legumes in a mortar and pestle is hard work._

_So after about 1/2 of grinding I had enough pea and lentil flour to suppliment traditional wheat flour and impart a unique colour and flavour to my pastry. I made a fairly basic short pasty out of it._

_Of course a unique pastry required something out of the ordinary for the pie filling. I decided to continue the middle-eastern/north African theme and included such items as dates, Ras al Hanout and hazelnuts (pine nuts would have been better, but I was all out of them)._

_In staying with the theme, the side dish is preserved lemon and green lentils._

h2. Ingredients

h3. Pastry Base

* 1 cup plain bakers flour
* 1 egg yolk
* 2 – 3 tablespoons of butter (I didn’t measure it)
* 3 to 5 tablespoons of water (also didn’t measure it)
about 1/3 cup of assorted flours. I made pea, red lentil and bhourgal flours amounting to a total of about 1/3 cup.

h3. Meat Filling

* 400g of mince (I used beef but I reckon lamb would be even better)
* 1 onion
* 2 large button mushrooms
* 2 large cloves of garlic
* 1 rasher of bacon
* 1 dessertspoon of tomato paste
* 1 teaspoon of Ras al Hanout
* 1.5 teaspoons of Sweet Paprika
* 1 teaspoon of Sumac
* 1 dozen hazelnuts finely chopped
* 1 cup of stock (beef or lamb)
* 1 handful of semolina
* 1 handful of cous cous
* salt and pepper
* a little grated cheese for topping

h3. Lentils

* 3/4 cup of green lentils
* 1 cinnamon stick
* 1 piece of preserved lemon
* 1 cup chicken stock
* 1.5 cups of boiling water
* 1 clove of garlic (whole)

h2. Method

h3. Pastry Base

To obtain the assorted flours you could either go and buy some (good luck on that), or get your trusty large stone mortar and pestle out and expend some elbow grease. I did the latter. I found that grinding 1 tablespoon (or less) at a time gave the best results. The pea flour was made from yellow split peas which turned out to be very hard to grind. Bhourgal is almost impossible to grind but if you add a little bit of salt, it seems to help. Finally the red lentil flour was relatively easy, and as such the bulk of my mix ended up consisting of that.

Once you have your assorted flours, put them in a large mixing bowl and add the cup of bakers flour.

To that, add your remaining ingredients (adding the water a little at a time, just enough to bind it) and work them through thoroughly. You should end up with a crumbly mess that will bind together when squeezed.

Tip that out on the bench, bind as much as you can together and then roll it. Turn over, roll some more, add the bits of mix that haven’t rolled in, and roll them in, roll some more turning occasionally. Basically there’s a lot of rolling to be done. Eventually it’ll start looking like short pastry. Once it’s thin enough (3mm) you can put it in a greased pie dish, working it into the edges, etc. Trim the excess and fill in the gaps.

Pre-heat your oven to 150C. Once it’s to temp. you can bake the pie crust for 10 mins. Remove the pie crust from the oven after that time and place aside, turn the oven up to 180C.

h3. Meat filling.

While your pasty is pre-baking, prepare the meat filling.
To a medium saucepan add some olive oil, the onion (finely diced), the garlic (finely diced), the mushrooms (finely diced) and the bacon (diced). Sautee for a while until the onion starts to go translucent.
Now add the mince, finely diced dates, tomato paste and the spices.
Brown the meat through and then add the stock and hazelnuts.
Boil the mix in the stock until you’ve reduced the stock considerably (no visible pools of liquid). If it’s still too runny, add some semolina. Stir really well, and then add some cous cous to absorb the last remnants of moisture (without drying out the mix). Cover and simmer for a couple of minutes before turning out into the pie base.

Bake the pie for about 25 mins, adding some cheese on top during the last 5 mins.

h3. Lentils.

As soon as you’ve put the pie in the oven, give your pot a quick clean and then add all the ingredients for the lentils and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat to a rapid simmer and cover. When the pie is ready, the lentils should have absorbed all the liquid and thus be done. They should be firm but soft enough to chew.

h2. Notes.

Serve slices of pie with the lentils on the side.
Would also work with a nice tangine on the side, or even a Fattuche salad.

posted to Moorish,Recipes @ 11:24 pm

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