Can anyone really beat a Mince and Cheese Pie with Mashed Potato, Gravy, and veges for dinner on a cold night?
A really nice (and easy) way to use up leftover savoury mince is to make pies. These are super easy and always go down a treat. Plus they freeze really well.
Miss 20 is vegetarian (not through any social conciousness issues though, but because meat – especially beef and chicken – makes her very sick), and has said to me many times that what she misses the most is having a hot, meat-and-gravy pie. Vegetarian Pies, on the most part, seem to consist of vegetables in a white or cheese sauce, encased in pastry. NOT what a pie is.
A few months ago, we saw (in the local supermarkets frozen section) a a range of products called Quorn (pronounced “Corn” ) from the UK. These are corn-derived, non-soy, vegetarian “meat” options, and are priced around $8 for a pack. There is a good range of products, including sausage rolls, “chicken” and leek pies, “chicken” schnitzel, meatballs, and mince. So we (I) bought some to try.
The mince is actually quite mince-y in texture.
First, preheat the oven to 200degrees with the oven rack in the centre of the oven. I heat some oil in a frypan, add finely diced onion, some minced garlic, and a finely diced carrot. When that has cooked through and is transparent, I add about 200gm of the Quorn mince, and fry that together.
Then, sprinkle on some flour (I use a couple of dessertspoons worth) and mix that in. This will help to thicken the gravy. Add hot vegetable stock (250ml boiling water to 1 crumbled vege stock cube) a 1/4 – 1/3 C at a time and mix carefully until each addition thickens. Then add some dried herbs (I use dried rosemary and dried oregano or dried tarragon), and soy sauce (add to taste and for colour). I also add some frozen corn at this point. Keep tasting until the ideal mince mixture taste has been achieved. Remove from heat, and let cool, then refrigerate until cold.
Defrost some ready rolled puff pastry or pastry sheets. I find that each puff pastry sheet is slightly too big for the texas muffin tin that I cook my pies in, so cut probably about 5cm off each sheet. I also cut off baking paper to line each of the muffin tins with, and use these to base the pastry size on.
Line the tins with the baking paper, and then line again this time with the pastry sheet. Don’t worry about the amount of overhang of pastry – these will fold over to encase the filling.
Put a good sized spoonful of cold mince mix into each of the pastry-lined muffin tins, and top with about a tablespoon of grated cheese. Wet the edges of the pastry, and fold first one side over the filling, and then the other, so the pie looks like a little envelope… Carefully cut 2 or 3 small slits in the top, and then brush with beaten egg. When all the tins are full, carefully slide the muffin tin into the oven and cook for about 25 – 40 minutes or until the tops, bottoms, and sides are browned (just carefully lift out a pie with the baking paper liner and check from 25/30 minutes). When cooked, life onto a cooling rack.
My normal mince mixture is treated the same way and has exactly the same ingredients, other than using chicken stock to make up the gravy instead of vegetable stock. I also used 250gm pork mince and 250gm beef mince this time (to use up the finally defrosted mince that I was planning on using for the burgers the other day)
If you run out of “large” pastry to make the Muffin Pies with, I use the 5cm strips that I have cut off to make pasties..
Gently peel some of the plastic liner back about 1cm on one long edge of the pastry strip. Place that onto another long edge, and press them together firmly. Lay a spoonful of mince in the middle and top with some grated cheese. Moisten all edges of the pastry. Fold one side up to cover the mince, and press the pastry edges together firmly. Repeat with the other side. Cut 2 or 3 slits in the top, and brush with the egg wash. Bake at 200 degrees for 30 minutes until browned top and bottom. Let cool.