Eating our way thru Merida

I have just returned from a week end in Merida, taking my girlfriend Marie Suzanne who is visiting from France. Driven by Terry, who has no interest in this city, but who wanted to come along for the ride anyway, we started with a quick tour of Plaza Grande looking for somewhere to have lunch. We were starving, and on a mission to find authentic yucatecan food. There is no shortage of eating places in the Yucatan capital, from the cheap street side vendors to upmarket white linen-clad tables restaurants. After being accosted by a local, advertising his grandfather’s genuine yucatan restaurant a few bocks “that way”, taken to a Mayan’s artisanal store to see “the best hats”, we escaped to the quietness of X’CATIIC, a mid-range restaurant, overlooking the Plaza in full view of the Cathedral on our left and the City Hall on our right. While we waited for our meals, we watched families, couples strolling in the park, horse drawn carriages waiting for tourists (there were virtually none!), old men playing chess…

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Then the food arrived and the action was on the table: mixto ceviche, pork pibil and papadzules, it was pure yucatan on a plate!

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The ceviche was delicious, with not too much lime as some tend to have. Papadzules are tortillas stuffed with hard boiled eggs and topped with a sauce of pumpkin seeds: not as heavy as you’d think, and a very mild subtil flavour (until you drop some habanero chili sauce on it, then look out!!!) The pork pibil made up for the mild flavours: wrapped in banana leaves and spiced with achiote (annatto seed paste), garlic, sour orange, salt and pepper, it certainly tickled the tastebuds, though it was not spicy hot. Washed down with limonada natural, we left stuffed and ready to tackle the walk up to the Paseo Montejo, scouting for a restaurant suitable to take Terry later on. Dinner was only 3 hours away after all!

The Paseo is a wide boulevard, modelled on the Champs Elysees in Paris, albeit on a much smaller scale: it is a lovely swath of green open space, especially appreciated after experiencing the hustle and bustle of stone and concrete downtown Merida! Late afternoon (5pm) was quiet time: most shops had closed for the day, the restaurants had not quite yet opened for the night, and empty stalls were waiting for vendors to set up. The most activity we found was around the dulceria HELADO COLON, where Marie Suzanne could not resist sampling the lemon ice cream (“to help digest lunch” she said). I was too full to take another mouthful of anything, in fact, I was obsessing about the hotel swimming pool where we’d left my husband when we arrived. Which is where we ended up, soaking our sore feet after miles of walking in the searing Mexican heat.

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In the evening, we took Terry to our new find, CASA SAN ANGEL, a restaurant part of the hotel of the same name, at the very beginning of the Paseo. Saturday night happens to be “Noche Mexicana”, a celebration of Mexican culture, thru songs, dance and stalls, and the restaurant is located right next to the stage. You’d think the show is made for tourists, with the colourful dance groups and the mariachis, but we were amazed to find very few gringos around. Instead the place was packed with locals, families, young and old. Unlike any outdoor public event I’ve witnessed before, everyone was dressed to the hilt, sitting quietly on the chairs provided, listening to the performers and genuinely enjoying the show. Just as if they were watching opera. We commented on how well the kids behaved and if it were in Australia or France, they would be running everywhere, people would either be talking to each other or texting on their smartphones. More incredible for us, was the fact that despite alcohol being sold and consumed publicly, there were no signs of drunken behavior or fights ( Terry reckons the audience was too proper for that, the rowdy were probably in the club nearby!)

 

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Anyway, on to dinner: we sat on the footpath in full view and earshot of the musicians, whose loudness was made bearable by ordering a couple of margaritas and beers! Marie Suzanne had her heart set on trying  Chicken Mole which she found here. Terry adamant he didn’t want to eat Mexican was left with a choice between pasta and (of all things) Iranian food. The chef/owner being Persian, the menu featured dishes like Iranian spiced rice with chicken or Aubergine with beef, probably unique in Merida. That was a nice change to the usual tacos and bean soups! We should have stopped eating after that, but strolling past HELADO COLON again (doing a roaring trade at 11pm!), Terry could not resist trying their chocolate ice cream. And ended up disappointed as chocolate was only in the name, it had more cinnamon and ice than anything else!

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IMG_0595 - fbThe plan was to go back to the Paseo on Sunday morning and join the thousands of Meridanos (Merida residents) who take advantage of the streets being closed to vehicle traffic, to ride their bikes, enjoy the sidewalk art shows and live music. But I woke up with the realisation that the Food Market was near the hotel, and maybe we could sneak in a quick visit there first. It didn’t take long to convince Marie Suzanne (she’s as mad about food as I am), ditch the terrible hotel breakfast and walk down the 2 blocks to the Lucas de Galves market. What a place! It is a mass of small businesses, with stalls selling everything, from panuchos ( a handmade tortillas stuffed with black beans, fried and topped with chicken and salad) to live animals and hamacs. Different buildings house specific products: we started in the vegetables and spice section, mixed with cooking hardware stalls offering dozens of tortilla making devices, juicers, pans…then came across the poultry area, complete with fresh chicken and turkey hanging down (some were opened with eggs and entrails still attached, I am still wondering why), and trays of different parts. Just as we were commenting favorably on the lack of smells, we crossed over to the meat section, and were hit by a mighty whiff. I don’t think the meat was bad, it was just strong smelling: pork and beef were the choices, heads to tails and everything in between. To my disappointment I could not find the fresh sausages I spotted a few months ago in the San Cristobal market ( must have been a Chiapas specialty). I had come equipped with a freezer bag, but since the meat was not refrigerated, I doubt it would have lasted the 4-hour drive back to the boat (that’s if Terry allowed it in the car in the first place!) The fish, on the other hand, were kept on ice (thankfully) and compared to the meat, didn’t smell much at all. Fresh prawns from the Gulf of Mexico, baby sharks, octopus, ready mixes for ceviche, …all beckoned. Marie Suzanne and I were in foodie heaven, and as we walked past cheap taquerias (taco joints) and coctelerias (seafood shacks serving shellfish cocktails as well as ceviche), where you sit on a stool at a narrow counter, we agreed to come back for lunch.

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First we had to drop off our loot of fresh veggies, so cheap and tasty, I still kick myself for not buying more (think, a bag of 16 fat and juicy limes for 10 pesos, that’s A$1!!!) and visit the City Museum, one of the many things on my to-do-in-Merida list. It was such a nice reprieve from the hustle of the market, that neither of us wanted to go back to the confined and noisy environment of the eateries as inexpensive and authentic as they were. Instead we opted to walk a few hundred meters back to the Plaza Grande, which had been set up with food stalls as part of “Merida on Sunday”. I was only too happy to help Marie Suzanne cross more Antojitos Yucatecos ( yucatan snacks) off her list, so ordered Sopa de Lima (chicken broth, with shredded chicken, strips of fried tortillas and lime juice), Chicken Tamales (shredded chicken rolled in fresh masa (ground corn soaked in lime) then wrapped in banana leaves and barbecued) and Torta de lechon ( Suckling pig in a bread roll). Very light compared with lunch the day before (both on our stomach and our wallet), this meal was a perfect ending to our culinary safari.

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DSCF4044 - fbBy then, we didn’t feel like returning to the Paseo, particularly after finding out that we had only walked half way the day before, and the more lively and interesting section was another 6 klm further north! We toyed with the idea of taking a taxi there, but it was getting late, we knew Terry didn’t want to drive back to Puerto Aventuras in the dark and we also had Anne to collect from friends who had kindly agreed to look after her during the week end. So we headed back to the boat, with heads full of memories and stomachs full of food!

September Happenings

What a strange month that was! A mix of celebrations ( Australian Father’s Day, Terry’s birthday, some friends farewell, other friends return…) should have kept me busy in the galley, but strangely enough, it was the lousy weather that forced me indoors.

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22 successive days of rain meant hours spent either in the galley, cooking favourites and experimenting with new recipes, or looking for inspiration on the internet. Here are some of my most memorable moments:

–          EXPERIMENTING with Baked Cauliflower slices smothered with bacon and vegetables, side of avocado and tomato salad, layered coconut cake, lemon cream cookies

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–          ALL TIME FAVOURITES with Pan fried chicken and Caesar salad, pizza bar, roast chicken with macaronis

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–          EATING HEALTHY with Quinoa salad, very raw salad, potato and spinach salad

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–          MEXICAN COOKING with Pork Verde and black beans, spicy garlic prawns

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–          LEARNING about food photography (what else?) here , INSPIRED by this funny French girl

–          CELEBRATING Father’s Day diving with Dive Aventuras Mexico , Terry’s birthday at Dreams (all inclusive resort where you can only drink and eat so much before passing out from food coma!)

And just on cue, as a friend came to stay for a few days, the sun came out and actually stayed out for the end of the month. Perfect days to enjoy lounging around in Tulum and sample some of the best Mexican food.

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A case of good ingredients, bad dish.

Have you ever picked a recipe thinking it sounds great and the picture looks really appetising? Well I did last week. My teenage son has been bugging me for weeks about including more protein in his diet. He is not only going thru a growing spurt, but decided to embark on a fitness kick and strive for the best abs, shoulders, and pecs a 15 year old can have. I am not complaining, better have a fitness fanatic teenager than a couch potato.

So I grabbed one of the few Men’s Health and Outside magazines we have laying around, and came across a Lentil-Mushroom Burger recipe recommended by an ultramarathon runner, called Scott Jurek. If you’re like me, you probably have never heard of him and are highly unlikely to ever run into him (pun intended!). You see, he holds the record for the most miles run in 24 hours: 165.7. And he’s done it on a vegan diet. I am always looking for new ways to incorporate plant-based foods in our rotation (that’s new lingo to say I try to eat more vegetables!) and under my son’s influence, I find myself thinking not only about the yumminess  aspect but also the nutritional value of such foods ( like energy boosting or endurance enhancing). So I was intrigued by Mr Jurek’s claim that “this vegan burger is so delicious, even meat eaters find it satisfying!”.

 

All the ingredients are favourites of ours, and I happened to have them at hand on the boat: garlic, onions, lentils, mushrooms, walnuts, flaxseeds, breadcrumbs, Dijon mustard and spinach…I do feel like I am running a floating market sometimes! The recipe has you cooking the lentils till soft, finely chopping, mixing and sauteeing the vegetables, combine everything together, forming patties and grilling them as you would a hamburger. Sounded and looked perfect.

Except that the result was shocking: not shockingly bad, just shockingly…weird. It was savoury enough, but it felt like a vegetable patty masquerading as a burger. Which it was, and doing a bad job of it. The texture was sandlike, so dry it felt like eating gravel. The walnuts gave it crunch, the mushrooms and lentils added that earthy taste (like mud Terry said), the flaxseeds were supposed to act as binding agent (the same way an egg would, but this is a vegan dish, so eggs were out!) but they didn’t. Extra olive oil would have gone a long way, but our marathon runner mustn’t believe in adding more than 1 tablespoon of fat in the pan. I am not sure what he was thinking when he suggested to serve the patties on “toasted buns ” with no mention of any sauce (not even ketchup?) or extra fillings (lettuce leaves? Tomatoes? beetroot? No, nothing!) Hello carbs!!!

I don’t think of myself as a member of the food police, however I did find the whole combination just plain wrong. I skipped the buns, preferring to serve a baked ratatouille on the side, and a bowl of homemade tomato sauce to smother over these make believe burgers. Our daughter nailed it when she flatly declared “Mum, I don’t like your burgers” and instead, took a second serve of ratatouille, one of her least favourite food. Terry skipped straight to dessert, claiming he needed a cup of tea and a couple of coconut cookies for comfort. Our son, Marc, said it was OK, but not before slapping slices of smoked provolone cheese,  sliding the lot under the grill, and whopping some tomato sauce on top. I am actually reluctant to validate his opinion, on the basis that he declared the whole dish acceptable by making it non-vegan (ie adding cheese, that’s cheating!)

 

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So what went wrong? To me, a good burger is a burger burger, beefy and juicy (sorry, I love salmon, chicken and pork too, but they don’t come close to a good old beef burger!)Tried to make a burger out of what would make a fantastic salad, that’s what went wrong.  Imagine this: lovely green lentils, sliced mushrooms, toasted walnuts, garlic croutons, caramelised onions, on a bed of shredded spinach, with a Dijon mustard dressing. Doesn’t that  sound nicer? To make my point, I am off to the market this week end, to buy more vegetables and cook my version of  ultramarathon fuel food. Stay tuned!

In the meantime, here is the Outside recipe for the lentils-mushrooms patties (I really can’t bring myself to call them burgers!) If anyone out there decides to try it, please do report back, I don’t mind being proven wrong (though I prefer being right).

Lentil- Mushroom Burgers

 

Makes 12 4” burgers (serves 6 people, or 3 ultramarathoners!)

2 ¼  cups water

1 cup dried green or brown  lentils

1 tsp dried parsley

3 minced garlic clove

1 ¼ cups chopped onions

¾ cup chopped walnuts

2 cups breadcrumbs

½ cup ground flaxseeds

3 cups chopped mushrooms

1 ½ cups finely chopped kale or other winter greens ( I used spinach)

2 tbsp Dijon mustard

3 tbsp balsamic vinegar

 

1-     In a medium-size pot, bring the water to the boil and add the dried lentils, parsley, 1 minced garlic clove, ¼ cup chopped onion. Simmer for 35-40 minutes.

2-     Combine walnuts, breadcrumbs, ground flaxseeds in a small bowl and set aside.

3-     In a separate pan greased with olive oil, sauté 1 cup chopped onion, 2 minced garlic cloves, mushrooms, spinach for 8 to 10 minutes.

4-     Remove lentils from heat, add Dijon mustard and balsamic vinegar, and mash ingredients together.

5-     In a large bowl combine lentils, sautéed vegetables and breadcrumb mixture. Cool in the fridge.

6-     Using your hands, form patties and fry or grill until lightly browned and crispy on both sides, 3-5 minutes each side.

7-     Serve on a toasted bun ( I DIDN’T) or on their own with fresh tomato sauce and baked ratatouille (AS I DID).

Black beans and Pork Verde

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September is Latin American month in our house (oops, on our boat, rather).

We’re going along with the local mood, as September is Patriotic month in Mexico. The big day was Sept 16, Mexico’s Independence Day with fiestas organised everywhere! All shops and houses were decorated with flags and balloons, Playa del Carmen had crowds gathered down the Plaza, not sure if they had fireworks, with all the pouring rain, but that would not have stopped the Mexicans having fun. Even Anne got involved at school, and asked me to buy her some red-white-green earrings for the occasion. The supermarkets were brimming with specials on Mexican food products: tortillas, tomatoes, avocadoes, chili sauces, rice, beans, spices, sugar… heavily hinting that putting on a traditional feast was part of the celebrations (let’s not forget the Corona’s specials too: buy a 6 pack, get another for ½ price!).

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I also happen to be writing about Cuba in our other blog, so my head is full of images of roast pork, black bean soup, and pina coladas. Not surprisingly, all this has influenced my cooking lately, and I have found myself trying to either recreate Cuban dishes or experiment with Mexican ones. So far, I have had success with two: black beans  and Pork Verde.

Black beans have become Anne and Marc’s favourites. They are a staple Maya food, simmered with onion, garlic, and typical Mexican spices (cumin and coriander), easy to cook, filling and tasty. Mexicans eat them daily, Anne even orders it at the school cantina, where a fresh batch bubbles in a huge pot each morning.

Pork Verde is my version of Cuban roast pork. I have issues with recipes for “genuine melt-in-the- mouth” roast pork recipes, since most of them require slow cooking /baking  for 6 to 8 hours, not practical on a boat with limited amount of gas. So I steered away from Pulled Pork or Pork Pibil recipes and devised my own using my pressure cooker. The trick is to use pork shoulder meat  (boneless  or not) which is more flavorful and tender than pork leg as it has more fat in it. I also don’t use much liquid, as I prefer the meat to simmer in its own juice and fat, not unlike a confit. Throw in some aromatics, as many chilies as you can handle, cook for 1 hour or until the meat is very tender. (Cooking in the pressure cooker takes a third of the time required for baking, a precious advantage on board)

We had leftovers of both dishes the other day (I like to make a big batch I must say, it keeps well in the fridge), and served them for lunch in typical Mexican style: with flour tortillas (you can use corn tortillas if you prefer), thinly sliced radishes, avocado and beetroot salad. Unfortunately I had ran out of crema  (Mexican sour cream) and cilantro (coriander), which would have been nice additions, dolloped and sprinkled on top! Next time.

Frijoles Negro ( Black beans)

Serves 6-8

2 cups dried black beans, rinsed and picked over

1 jalapeno chile, seeded and thinly sliced

1 yellow onion chopped

2 tbsp ground cumin

2 tbsp ground coriander

¼ cup minced garlic

Salt and black pepper to taste

1 cup chopped fresh cilantro

In a large saucepan, soak the beans overnight in water to cover by 2 inches. Drain and add water to cover by 2”. Add the chile, onion,  cumin, coriander and garlic. Bring to boil over high heat, then reduce to a simmer and cook in the pressure cooker until tender,  about 45mn (if cooking in a traditional pot, cook uncovered  until tender about 1 ½h). Remove from the heat and let cool in the liquid for approx 15mn. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Stir in the cilantro and serve.

Pork verde

Serves 6-8

4 tbsp olive oil

1.8 kg (4 pounds) pork shoulder cut into 1” cubes

1 poblano chili (or more to taste)

1 tsp ground cumin

¼ tsp salt

¼ tsp pepper

3 garlic cloves minced

½ cup minced cilantro

1 can (14oz) diced tomatoes

Flour tortillas , warmed

1-      In the pressure cooker, heat 1 tbsp  oil over medium-high. Add 1 pound of pork, and stir until lightly browned. Remove and set aside. Repeat with remaining meat, adding more oil as needed. Return all the meat to the pressure cooker.

2-      Add chili(es), cumin, coriander, salt, pepper, garlic, cilantro and diced tomatoes. Cover and simmer until pork is very tender, about 45mn. Serve with warm tortillas, black beans (see above), guacamole and fresh radishes.

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“You’re so far away from home!” This is the typical reaction we get when asked where we are from and our response is ”Australia…and France”. Though I always like to think that home is wherever the boat is, we are indeed away from our respective birth countries.

Not to say that we get homesick, but we do like to observe some of our special days and celebrate the way we would at home. Take Father’s Day. The French, Americans, Canadians, and Mexicans all celebrated their Dads back in June (including  me). However Australia’s Father Day falls on the first Sunday of September, and there was no way the kids would change that tradition.

So  on September 1, Terry was probably the only person waking up to his children’s “Happy Father’s Day”! As per family tradition, he was to spend the day as he pleased and order whatever he wanted to eat. We had intended to go scuba diving , all four of us, but thunderstorms and lightning stuffed up that plan. It ended up being a movie day instead. Personally I didn’t mind, as it meant spending time in the galley which I much preferred rather than trying to climb back on a diving boat in a middle of a storm!

Terry’s request for dinner was a good old Aussie meat pie. Now, that doesn’t sound like much, unless you are an expat Aussie! 7 months in Mexico, and this Shire boy is growing tired of empanadas, burritos, and tacos. So, I went to work.

The pie filling was easy: I had all the ingredients on board, but for the beef. It took some searching, figuring the Mexican equivalent of “chuck steak”, to eventually settle for chambarete de res or beef shanks ( otherwise used for osso bucco).

The pastry, on the other hand was a challenge. Puff pastry is near impossible to find where we live on the Riviera Maya. In fact, all that is available in the supermarkets or delis is pre-shaped graham cracker crusts or frozen phyllo pastry. So I but the bullet, and turned to my trusted Robert Carrier Cookbook, and its 45 pages devoted to pies and pastries. There, on page 759, was the recipe for Flaky Pastry, which I favoured over the Puff Pastry as it involved “only” 3 turns instead of 7. The ingredients required were the same in both cases (flour, butter, iced water, salt), so was the technique, but this being my first time and the humid weather melting the butter faster than desirable, I went for the shorter option. Still, it took me a good hour to knead, roll, spread, fold, turn…3 times. But felt quite an achiever as I cradled the buttery parcel to the fridge to rest.

Terry was so excited at the prospect, he mentioned how his favourite part of the pie was the pastry enclosing  the meat. That’s when it hit me. I had made enough flaky pastry to cover the top, not worrying about the bottom. Terry’s comment? “Ohhhh, that’s a French meat pie. A real aussie meat pie has pastry top and bottom, so you can hold it in your hands!”  Nothing peeves me more than being told I’m not cooking things right. So, opened the book again, and sure enough, on page 777, there is an entire section about raised pies! Well, wasn’t I happy that the diving expedition was cancelled, it gave me spare time to try my hand at rich raised pie crust making.

Raised pies are generally served cold, so the crust needs to be rather solid in texture to absorb the juices and still retain its shape.  Ordinary raised pie crust is made with water, lard, flour and salt. The addition of egg and butter makes it richer, what you want when lining a mould, as I planned to. My only issue with the recipe was the use of lard. To be honest, though it’s easily available in Mexico,  it’s not the kind of ingredient I keep on board ( something to do with the look and smell of the plastic wrapped blob sold in the supermarket, maybe). However, I happen to find a tub of duck fat stuck at the back of the fridge, which I had forgotten I had. It was unopened, still carrying its New York price tag from Zabar (just as well, it keeps for ages!) A little softer to handle than lard, it was a perfect substitute for it. Overall, making this crust took a fraction of the time required for flaky pastry: 10 minutes tops.

Both pastries kept each other company in the fridge, while the filling cooked and cooled. Assembling the pie was child’s play. Since we didn’t have individual pie dishes, I served it family style in a 9” deep pie dish along with steamed broccoli ( we needed a healthy side, right?). It cut well, but the amount of filling was such that Terry couldn’t eat it with his hands without the meat being squeezed out the sides. Still, it was delicious and rich, from the pastry and the well-seasoned beef. Paired with a cold lager for Terry and a smooth Argentinian red wine for me, it nearly felt like home

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Australian style  meat pie

Adapted from The Robert Carrier Cookbook

4-6 thick slices beef shins (or 1.5 kg chuck steak cut into bite sized pieces)

3 tbsp plain flour

1 tsp salt

1 tsp ground black pepper

5 tbsp butter

1 large yellow onion finely chopped

1 carrot finely chopped

1 celery stick finely chopped

500 ml rich beef stock

1tbsp Worcestershire sauce

1 bay leaf

2 tsp parsley chopped

Flaky pastry (for the lid – see below)

Rich raised pie crust (for the base – see below)

1-      Make a rich raised pie crust  as directed below. Butter a deep pie dish  and line it with pastry. Keep cool in the fridge.

2-      Mix flour, salt and ½ tsp ground black pepper and roll the beef shins in this mixture.

3-      Melt butter in a thick bottom saucepan ( or a pressure cooker, like I do).  Add the beef shins one at a time and brown them thoroughly, turning them over often. When all the shins have been browned, keep them aside while you saute the finely chopped onion, carrot and celery until soft, for about 5 minutes. Add back the beef shins and their juices in the saucepan/pressure cooker, moisten with the beef stock and the Worcesteshire sauce, add remaining black pepper, bay leaf and chopped parsley

4-      Stir, cover, bring to the boil, reduce the heat to a simmer and cook on low for 1 ½ hour ( if using a pressure cooker, wait until the valve “whistles” then reduce to a simmer, and cook on low for ¾ hour).

5-      The meat should be very tender. Shred it from the shin bones ( or leave it in chunks if using boneless chuck steak). Allow meat to cool in its own liquid.

6-      In the meantime, make a flaky pastry crust as directed below.

7-      When cool enough, add meat and liquid to pastry lined pie dish. Place the flaky pastry crust over the meat, moistening and pinching edges to the dish. Make vents in the pastry to allow steam to escape and bake in a hot oven at 230C/450F for 10 minutes. Lower heat to moderate 190C/375F and continue baking for 20 minutes or until pastry crust is golden brown. Serves 6-8

Flaky pastry

275 g plain flour

Good pinch of salt

Squeeze of lemon juice

200 g butter

Iced water

1-      Sieve flour and salt into a clean, dry bowl and add lemon juice.

2-      Divide butter into 4 equal parts. Take one of these pieces and rub it into the flour with the tips of your fingers until mixture is free from lumps  (it is vital the butter is very cold and you work quickly, if the butter starts melting or your hands are too warm, it turns into a mess! Alternatively, use a food processor and use the pulse setting)

3-      Then add just enough iced water to form dough into one lump. Do not over handle.

4-      Turn onto a floured board, knead lightly until smooth and roll into a long narrow strip, approx. 6mm thick.

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5-      Take one of the remaining portions of butter and with the tip of a knife put it in even rows of small pieces all over the pastry, leaving 25mm margin without butter around the edges. (that’s where it gets tricky: if butter is too hard, it will make ugly lumps, work it on a plate first; if butter is too soft, it will ooze out in a mess, refrigerate it first)

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6-      Flour the surface lightly. Fold the pastry exactly in 3, like a letter. Turn the pastry ½ round, bringing the joins to the right hand side, and press the folds down sharply with the rolling pin so as to enclose some air.

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7-      Roll the pastry out again into a long narrow strip, and proceed as before until the 2 remaining portions of butter have been used (again, make sure the butter doesn’t become too soft during the rolling, cool the pastry in the fridge if necessary between turns)

8-      The last time, roll the pastry out to the desired thickness, if it needs widening, turn it across the board and roll across.

9-      Wrap in gladwrap and rest in the fridge for ½ hour (It will keep it there for several days. Bring back to room temperature for 20mn before using again) .

Rich raised pie crust

225 plain flour

½ tsp salt

2 tbsp unsalted butter

2 tbsp duck fat (or lard)

1 egg yolk

Water (up to 150ml)

1-      Sieve the flour and salt, rub in the butter and the duck fat (or lard) until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs. (I sometimes use the food processor on pulse setting when I don’t want my hands to get dirty!))

2-      Bind together with the egg yolk and a little water, keeping the pastry as dry as possible.

3-      Knead well, wrap in gladwrap and rest in the fridge for ½ hour. (This pastry will keep there for a few days while wrapped. Bring back to room temperature for 20mn before using again.)

 

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