VARIATIONS OF SAVORY MEAT
Pies are found throughout the world. When I moved to the American South, I discovered there were numerous regional versions of meat pies there as well, each one sporting its unique twists with ingredients and presentation. In this recipe, I have combined elements to create a tribute to these mouthwatering provincial favorites. Garam masala and turmeric pay homage to Kerala, while the cream cheese crust adds a southern tenderness. Both the dough and filling for this hearty breakfast pie can be prepared the night before and then assembled and baked in the morning.
CREAM CHEESE PIE CRUST
3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
11/2 teaspoons kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
18 tablespoons (2 sticks plus 2 tablespoons) unsalted butter, chilled and cut into small pieces
7 ounces (just under one 8-ounce block) cream cheese, chilled and cut into small pieces
1/4 cup very cold water
MAKES TW0 9-INCH PIE CRUSTS, 2.6 POUNDS OF DOUGH
How to make it
In the bowl of an electric mixer, combine the flour, salt, and baking powder. With the mixer running at low speed, add the butter a few pieces at a time, mixing until the butter is in small pea-sized pieces.
Add the cream cheese and mix until the cream cheese gets incorporated and starts forming a shaggy dough.
Gradually drizzle the cold water over the dough and mix until the dough clears the side of the bowl.
Form the dough into 2 flat disks; wrap the dough in plastic wrap and chill for at least 1 hour or up 2 days. Roll the dough into two 1⁄4-inch-thick and 10-inch-round circles.
Notes:Take this advice: when making pie crust, prepare two and freeze one! With a homemade pie crust in the freezer, whipping up a tasty treat for drop- in company or an effortless brunch on a lazy Sunday will be a snap. Roll the extra crust up between two pieces of waxed or parchment paper, and slip it into a freezer bag. I store mine in the freezer door where it is less likely to get smashed or lost among the shelves.
2 tablespoons canola oil
1 large yellow onion, thinly sliced
1 teaspoon peeled, finely chopped fresh ginger
3 garlic cloves, finely chopped 1 teaspoon garam masala
1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder 11/2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 pound cooked chicken breast, cut into bite-sized pieces
2 small gold potatoes, peeled, boiled, and smashed to pieces or roughly chopped
1 cup fresh or frozen green peas 5 large eggs, beaten
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes, for garnish
1/2 teaspoon dried parsley flakes, for garnish
MAKES FILLING FOR ONE 9-INCH PIE, 8 TO 10 SERVINGS
How to make it
Line a 10-inch cast-iron skillet with one circle of the dough. Place the dough in the skillet and chill in the refrigerator while preparing the filling. (Reserve the other crust for future use.)
In another large skillet, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the onions and ginger and cook until the onions are golden brown, 5 to 6 minutes. Add the garlic, cooking and stirring for 2 minutes.
Add the garam masala, turmeric powder, and salt, cooking and stirring for an additional 1 minute.
Add the tomato paste and 1⁄2 cup of water, stirring well to fully incorpo- rate all the ingredients.
Add the chicken and continue to cook, stirring occasionally until all of the liquid evaporates.
Add the peas and potatoes and stir well to combine. Cook, stirring occasionally, until every- thing is coated and well combined, for 2 to 3 minutes.
Remove from the heat and cool.
Heat the oven to 350°F.
Stir the hash filling into the eggs.
Pour the mixture into the prepared crust and bake at 350°F until the top is a light golden brown, approximately 25 minutes.
Garnish with a sprinkling of red pepper flakes and dried parsley flakes. Cool for 15 minutes and serve it right out of the skillet.
Notes This pastry dough is quite forgiving and, consequently, my favorite. Some folks are intimidated by the idea of making pastry dough. This cream cheese pie crust has a bit of baking powder, which yields extra flakiness, and cream cheese, which ensures tenderness. I’m sure you will adore working with this dough. But I’m a working mom and understand that if you want, or need, to whip out a refrigerated crust from the market, do what you’ve got to do.