Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Peas & Pie with Mint Gelée, Chives and Pont Neuf Chips

     Old Fashioned English Comfort Food With A Modern Twist!
     Meat Pies in England are one of the oldest kinds of street food that there is.  Small pies with meat fillings are sold at small shops nearly anywhere that there is local foot traffic.  Folks simply grab a small meat pie and munch while on the go.  
     Meat pies at modern English pubs can be presented plain or fancy.  Refined fine English restaurants also offer elegant versions of meat pies.

     Mushy Peas are a tradition in England.  I ran an English pub kitchen for 2 years and the coworkers from England called Mushy Peas by the name Mashy Peas.  Mushy or Mashy, it amounts to the same thing!  Masked big Marrowfat Peas!
     Marrowfat Peas are soaked overnight, simmered till tender and then pureed.  The puree can look like the consistency of regular pea soup or it can be made so thick that the mushy peas resemble green colored stiff mashed potatoes.  
     Mushy Peas are traditionally served with Fish & Chips.  Mushy Peas are also featured in a traditional entrées like Peas Pie and Pie & Peas.  Peas Pie is made like a Cottage Pie in a baking crock and the Mashy Peas take the place of Potato Shingles.   Pie & Peas (or Peas & Pie) is a meat pie topped off with Mushy Peas.
     Dried Marrowfat Peas for Mushy Peas are almost always tinted with green food coloring.  Dried Marrowfat Peas can be hard to find outside of England.  If you have access to Marrowfat Peas and make your own Mushy Peas, then by all means use an organic green food color to tint the color of the Mushy Peas.  The greener the better.
    Canned Mushy Peas are a nice quality product that can be found at international food markets.  Canned Mushy Peas nearly always have green food coloring already added.  
     I found a Canned Mushy Peas at an Indian market in Las Vegas of all places.  Indian food market managers realize that people from the British Isles like curry style masala spice mixes.  Where the British shop for curry spices is a good place to market British goods like Mushy Peas, Branston Pickle, Smarties and other English products.  Rane's Indian Market in Las Vegas stock a nice selection of English food products.
     Mint often flavors Mushy Peas.  Mint and Mushy Peas is a nice flavor combination.  For today's Pie & Peas recipe, I decided to get a bit fancy.  A Mint Gelée is used to paint the plate!  
     A French Gelée can have a variety of textures.  The definition of Gelée is food particles suspended in a gelled medium.  The gel can be thin for coating or the gel can have more body.  The food that is in a gelled suspension usually is finely minced vegetables, herbs, chile peppers, spices or fruit.  Some of the chefs in Las Vegas go as far as adding food grade pure gold dust to a Gelée to give the Gelée an elegant sparkle.
     To gauge when the consistency is correct, just cook the Gelée so it looks like a thin glaze.  After chilling, the Gelée with become a thicker consistency.  A thin Gelée will flow on a plate.  A thicker Gelée will hold its shape.

     Mint Gelée:
     This recipe yield about 2 1/2 to 3 ounces of thin mint gelée!
     • Not all liquid pectin products are created equal!  Some gel firmer than others.  Basically when it comes down to it, gelée making follows a basic recipe outline, but each gelée is fine tuned by eye.  
     • The mint gelée should have a thin consistency, but it should not be watery or runny.  The fine flecks of dried mint should remain in suspension.  
     • Bright green color dried mint from the Middle East is best for this recipe.  
     • If the gelée is too thick after chilling, gently heat the gelée over low heat and add a few teaspoons of water.  Allow the jelly to cool to room temperature, before using.
     Step 1:  Heat 1/2 cup of water in a small stainless steel sauce pot over low heat.
     Bring the water to a gentle simmer.
     Add 3 tablespoons of granulated sugar.
     Add 1 ounce of liquid pectin.
     Add 1 teaspoon of lemon juice.
     Step 2:  Rub 1/2 teaspoon of dried mint with your fingers into a small bowl.  (The dried mint should look like fine flecks of dust.)
     Add the rubbed dried mint to the gelée.
     Step 3:  Add 1 or 2 drops of organic green food color.
     Step 4:  Reduce the temperature to vey low heat.
     Gently simmer and reduce, till the gelée looks like a thin consistency that can barely glaze a spoon.
     Step 5:  Pour the gelée into a small ceramic bowl.
     Chill the gelée for 24 hours.
     Step 6:  Place the finished mint gelée in a small plastic squirt bottle and set it aside.
     Gently warm the the squirt bottle to room temperature in a bath of hot tap water before serving.
     Pâte Brisée - French Pie Crust Dough:
     Follow the link to the recipe in this website:
     • Pâte Brisée - French Pie Crust Dough

     Beef Steak Pie Filling:
     This recipe yields enough for 1 individual portion meat pie.
     Step 1:  Cut 7 ounces of lean beef steak into bite size pieces.  (Top Sirloin, Top Round or Chuck Steak is good for this recipe.)
     Lightly dredge the beef pieces in flour.
     Step 2:  Heat a sauce pot over medium heat.
     Add 1 1/2 tablespoons of unsalted butter.
     Add the floured beef.
     Add 1 1/2 tablespoons of small chopped onion.
     Sauté till the beef and onions are lightly browned.
     Step 3:  Add just enough rich beef stock to cover the beef.
     Add sea salt and black pepper.
     Add 1 pinch of marjoram.
     Bring the liquid to a gently boil.
     Step 4:  Reduce the temperature to very low heat.
     Gently simmer and reduce, till the gravy thickens to medium thick consistency that easily coats the beef pieces.  (By this time, the proportion of beef will be higher than the gravy.)
     Step 5:  Remove the pot from the heat.
     Place the steak filling in a container and let it cool to room temperature.
     Refrigerate the steak filling to 41ºF.

     Beef Steak Pie:
     This recipe yields 1 individual portion meat pie.
     Step 1:  Lightly brush a 5 1/2" to 6" pop-ring tart pan with melted unsalted butter.
     Step 2:  Cut 2 round shaped sheets of the pâte brisée that are 8" wide.
     Drape one round sheet of pate brisee over the tart pan and press it into place.
     Roll a rolling pin over the rim of the tart pan to trim off the excess dough.
     Step 3:  Mound the chilled gelled steak filling on the center of the pâte brisée lined tart pan and try to keep the filling away from the the pastry edge.
     Step 4:  Lightly brush the exposed pate brisee around the tart pan rim with egg wash.
     Drap the second 8" round sheet of pâte brisée over the tart pan.
     Press the two edges of pie dough together, while pinching the excess dough off against the rim of the tart pan.  (Save the pie dough scraps for another recipe.)
     Step 5:  Lightly brush the top of the sealed pie with egg wash.
     Poke a few steam vent holes through the top of the pie.
     Step 6:  Place the tart pan and pie on a baking pan.
     Bake in a 375ºF oven, till the crust is fully cooked and crispy golden brown.
     *The mushy peas and chips can be prepared while the pie is baking!

     Mushy Peas:
     This recipe yields 1 accompanying portion.
     Step 1:  Place 5 to 6 ounces of canned of mushy peas or pre-cooked mashed marrowfat peas in a sauce pot.
     Add 1/4 cup of water.
     Add sea salt and white pepper.
     Add 1/2 tablespoon of unsalted butter.
     Step 2:  Place the pot over low heat.
     Gently heat the mushy peas and stir them occasionally.
     Simmer till the mushy peas become a thick consistency.  (As thick as mashed potatoes.)
     Keep the thick mushy peas warm on a stove top.

     Pont Neuf Chips:
     This recipe yields 1 small garnishing portion.
     Pont Neuf Chips are Classic French Fries!  Pont neuf is a French precision cut dimensions are 1/2"x1/2"x 2 1/2"- 3". 
     These pont neuf chips are pan fried, rather than deep fried! 
     Step 1:  Cut a russted potato into 4 pont neuf shapes.
     Blanch the 4 pont neuf potatoes in salted boiling water for 1 minute.
     Drain the water off of the potatoes.
     Step 2:  Place enough vegetable oil in a small cast iron skillet, so the oil is 1/4" deep.
     Heat the oil to 360ºF.
     Step 3:  Add the blanched pont neuf potatoes.
     Pan fry the potatoes on all sides, till the potatoes fully cooked and golden brown.
     Step 4:  Place the chips on a wire screen roasting rack over a drip pan.
     Season with sea salt and black pepper.
     Keep the pont neuf chips warm on a stove top.

     Peas & Pie with Mint Gelée, Chives and Pont Neuf Chips:
     Step 1:  After the beef steak pie finishes baking, allow it to cool for 2 to 3 minutes.
     Remove the tart pan ring and slide the pie off of the tart pan base.
     Step 2:  Use a spatula to place the steak pie on the center of a plate.
     Spoon the thick mushy peas over part of the back half of the pie.
     Step 3:  Garnish the back half of the pie with the 4 pont neuf chips on the plate fanning out from center.
     Use the plastic squirt bottle of mint gelée to paint a simple zigzag design on the plate on both sides of the pie.
     Sprinkle a generous amount of thin sliced chives over the mushy peas and the plate.

     A nice clean looking modern pub style presentation of tasty Peas & Pie!

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