I have always had trouble with sitting still. To me, stillness is akin to idleness. My inability to stay in one place when I know the world is going on around me is a source of a lot of my best and worst habits. For example: I pull out my hair. Literally. Doing it right now even. For example #2: I dabble in many creative hobbies, have many creative ideas and then have a hard time seeing them all through.
I’d like to blame most of this on summer but really, this is how I’ve always been. I’ve always looked forward to my next challenge and while in the past, they seem to have come to me organically, this time it feels different. This is the big one. I have to make this challenge show up. The smart thing to do is to prepare for when it’s time. This means I have to be content with the lull. It means I have to keep this brain thinking while I say “Okay, I’m just going to wait right here for a second.” I’m going to read many books while I wait. Maybe I’ll write one. Maybe. Today I finished an illustration (on paper) that I’ve been meaning to make for the longest time. I’ll show it to you if you really, really want to see it and especially if you’re from Goa.
There are dreams bursting inside of me. Maybe staying still isn’t what I’m supposed to be doing.
Chanterelle and sweet corn hand pies
Last year I told you I had a favourite pie crust. I wasn’t lying but things have changed a little around here. My technique for one, has changed for the better. I am a believer in flaky pie crust that crumbles and melts and flakes and does all those incredible pie hug-like things. In my earlier experiments with pie crust, I was cutting the butter into cubes that were too small. After that I would break the butter into even smaller bits once it hit the flour. While I like this technique, I wanted to try something new. I’ve tried the vodka trick, the half-shortening, half-butter trick, I’ve done a mix of whole wheat and all-purpose flour and I still wasn’t too happy.
Enter “The Mind of a Chef”. Season 2 had a segment in which I got to see how perfect pie crust could be if I just did one small thing differently. That thing was the act of “pressing” the butter into the flour. It was almost puff-pastry like. Instead of cutting the butter into smaller cubes into the flour, the chef suggested using your fingertips to press the butter into the bowl of flour. That gave the pie crust a whole new, flaky texture I’ve only dreamt about. I also put the butter back into the fridge before adding it to the flour. Cold is everything with pie dough. I’m not one of those people that are intimidated by pie crust but it did help to see someone make the dough rather than just read about it. I’m on team butter and I’m a believer…until next year when I find out something new. You can be sure that I will come tell you about it.
You will need a weighing scale for this recipe.
For the pie crust
- 250 gms unbleached all-purpose flour (approximately 2 cups)
- A pinch of salt (use only your thumb and index finger as an unscientific measurement)
- 125 gms cold unsalted butter (if using salted butter, reduce or eliminate the salt)
- 7-9 tbsp or 1/3 cup ice cold water (or just enough to bring it together)
Mix the flour and salt in a large bowl. Cut your butter into 1 inch cubes and then put it back into the fridge to chill for about 15-30 minutes to firm up. Add the butter cubes to the flour by pressing them in so that they form flat-ish flakes in the flour. Once you’ve broken down all the big chunks of butter, add the cold water a tbsp at a time until the dough comes together into one firm ball. Be careful not to over-mix the dough. Flatten the dough into a disc and wrap it tight in plastic wrap. refrigerate it for an hour before rolling it out.
For the filling
- 4 slices of bacon
- 1/4 cup yellow onion, diced
- 2 large cloves of garlic
- 1 cup sweet corn
- 2 3/4 cups chanterelles (225gms/8oz, if you’re buying by weight)
- 1 tsp red wine vinegar
- 1 tbsp fresh thyme
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 1/2 cup chicken stock or white wine
Cook up the bacon on medium-low heat in a large skillet until it crisps up and all the fat has rendered. Take the bacon off the stove and place it on a cutting board. Scoop out 2 tbsp of the bacon fat and pour it down the sink (you won’t need that much). Turn up the heat to medium and add the onion and garlic to the bacon fat. Saute them until the onions soften, for about 6-8 minutes. Add the corn to the mixture next and saute it for 2 more minutes. Finally, add the chanterelles and cook them for another 2-3 minutes until they soften. Add the wine vinegar, thyme, salt and pepper and toss well to coat. Leave the skillet on the stove. Finally, scoop the pie filling into a bowl. Chop up the bacon into small bits and mix it in with the rest of the filling.
With the skillet still on the stove, pour in the chicken stock or wine. Scrape the bottom of the skillet and let the liquid reduce to half. Pour all of these juices over the rest of the filling in the bowl and mix well.
To assemble and bake
- All-purpose flour, to dust and roll out the crust
- 1 egg, beaten for the egg wash
Heat the oven to 400 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
Lightly flour a working surface and roll out the pie dough. Flattening the dough might not look like a possible feat, but keep turning it around, rolling it as you go. The flour at the bottom will prevent the dough from sticking. A bench scraper – if you have one – also helps a lot with getting the dough unstuck. You can also flour the rolling pin to aid the process. Once the dough has been rolled out flat into a 1/4 inch thick circle (it might not be a circle at all but don’t worry about it).
Cut out 6-8 inch circles into the dough. Brush the edges (I know circles don’t have edges but you get my point, right?) with water. Place about a tablespoon and a half of filling in the centre of the dough. Fold one side over to the other and press the two parts together to seal. Use the back of a fork to press the edges shut and seal the hand pie, for real. It also make a great design. Cut 3 small slits on one side of the pie using a pairing knife. Place the finished pies on the baking sheet. Repeat the process until you’ve used up all your pie dough.
Before you set the baking sheet into the oven, put it in the fridge one last time to allow the dough to harden back up. It takes all but 30 minutes and it’s worth it. Brush the pies with the egg wash and place the baking sheet in the oven. At the 10 minute mark, turn the heat down to 375 degrees F and finish off baking the pies for 10-15 more minutes. Once the top surface of the pies have turned a beautiful golden brown, they are ready.
Eat the pies while warm, with a side of whatever makes you happy.