ground beef

Chilean Corn Pie

Pastel de Choclo

As Benjamin Sepulveda, Marcela Naveas, and Javiera Alvarez, from Santiago, Chile, taught Lindsay Sterling in Portland, Maine. 

Serves: 4
Cooking time: 1 hour
Note: Easily make this dish for 8 by doubling the amounts and using a large casserole dish or two pie plates. 

Ingredients

  • 6-8 ears fresh corn or substitute with 4 cups frozen kernels
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 medium yellow onion
  • 1 Tbsp oil
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 chicken breast
  • 1 lb. ground beef
  • 1 + 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp pepper
  • 1/2 tsp cumin
  • 1 Tbsp paprika (sweet, not spicy variety)
  • 1 tsp oregano
  • 3 leaves fresh basil (plus more for garnish)
  • 1/2 cup black olives
  • 1/4 cup raisins
  • 2 Tbsp sugar

Equipment

  • cutting board
  • knife
  • meat grinder, blender, food processor, or grater
  • 2 medium pots
  • 1 large pot
  • measuring spoons -- or just eyeball it!
  • 1 small pot 
  • 1 pie plate or similarly sized oven safe dish 
  • spatula

Instructions

1. Shuck the corn, and grind the kernels using whatever tool you have. You can grate the kernels off the cob using a grater, or you can slice the kernels off the cob with a knife and then turn them into a rough paste using a meat grinder, food processor, or blender. (To cut the kernels off the cob, turn a cob on its thick end and slice down the length of the cob, shaving the kernels off. Rotate cob and repeat until all the kernels are shaved off.)

2. Chop basil roughly or pulse it briefly with the corn in the blender or food processor. (Don't puree it in there otherwise your topping will turn slightly green, not as appealing as yellow!)

3. Preheat oven to 350°F. Cook the ground corn and basil in a medium pot with the milk for 20-30 minutes on medium-low until the mixture thickens. 

4. Hardboil the eggs, and boil the chicken. You can do this together in one pot. (Cover both with water, add 1 tsp salt, and bring to a boil. Once boiling, turn heat down so water is simmering). Once water boils, set a timer for 14 minutes.

5. Dice the onion. In large saute pan, saute the onions in 1 Tbsp oil. When the onions are soft, add ground beef, 1/2 tsp salt, 1/4 tsp pepper, 1/2 tsp cumin, 1 Tbsp paprika, and 1 tsp oregano. Saute, stirring occasionally until the ground beef loses all its pinkness.  

6. When the timer goes off, remove the chicken from the broth and cut into to it to see if it's done (opaque throughout). Cover the eggs in cold water.  Peel the eggs. Slice the chicken and eggs into 1/4-inch pieces.

7. Make the following layers in a deep pie dish or oven-safe baking dish: beef and onions on the bottom, then the chicken slices, then egg slices, olives, and raisins. Cover everything in the corn porridge. Sprinkle the top with sugar. Bake for 20-30 minutes until golden. Broil the top for extra crispy texture. 

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Argentinian Beef Hand Pies

Empanadas

As Valy Steverlynck, from Luján, Argentina, taught Lindsay Sterling in Freeport, Maine.

Serves: 12-24 depending on how big you make them
Active time: 1 hour
Total time: 1 hr (if you use pre-made dough) to 2 days if you make your own dough and prep the filling the day before.

Note: For the dough, Valy used pre-made empanada discs or "discos" as they are named on the package. They're sold in the freezer of Latin markets and some supermarkets. These make this recipe really easy. I've provided a dough recipe for those who want to make dough from scratch.

For the dough:

  • 2-3 packages pre-made empanada dough discos OR:
     
  • 6 cups flour
  • 1 1/2 sticks butter, cut into 1/2 inch pieces
  • 1 egg, mixed up
  • 1 egg for egg wash at the end
  • two dashes salt
  • 5-7 Tbsp cold water

For the filling

  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup oil
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 1 lb. ground beef 
  • 1 cup diced tomatoes
  • 1 Tbsp oregano
  • 1 tsp chili flakes
  • 1 Tbsp paprika
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1/4 cup raisins
  • 1/2 cup fresh parsley, rough chopped
  • 1/4 cup green olives, chopped
  • dash cayenne or hot chili powder to taste

For the glaze:

  • 1 egg

Equipment

  • 2 half sheet pans or cookie sheets
  • rolling pin
  • 2 cereal bowls
  • 1 small bowl
  • spatula

If you are making your own dough:

  • large food processor or large bowl with fork/pastry cutter
  • wax paper 
  • plastic wrap 

Instructions

1. If you are using the pre-made empanada dough, skip ahead to item number two. If you are not using the pre-made dough discs, make the dough a day ahead of time if you can. Put flour, salt, the mixed egg, and butter in a food processor or use a fork or your fingers to cut the butter into the flour until you have what looks like course coarse corn meal. Add 5 Tbsp ice cold water and blend briefly until the dry flour-y look is gone, but what you see is still loose and crumbly, not dough-y. Try squeezing the loose pieces together. Do they stick together? If not, then continue mixing in water teaspoon by teaspoon until they do. When the crumbles do stick together when pressed, then dump half the contents onto a sheet of wax paper, and the other half on another sheet. Press the contents on the wax paper into a long rectangular pile perpendicular to you and roll the wax paper over tightly so you make the dough into a cylinder, about 2 inches in diameter, contained in wax paper. Do this with the other pile and wax paper. Refrigerate the cylinders wrapped in plastic wrap for thirty minutes or better, over night.

2. You can make the filling the day before, too, if you like. Hard boil 2 eggs. Saute onions in oil. When soft, add ground beef, spices, tomatoes and salt. When beef is all the way cooked, mix in parsley, hard boiled eggs (cut into 1/4 inch pieces), green olives and raisins. Refrigerate until you want to assemble and cook the empanadas. 

3. Take the package of dough discs out of the freezer or your handmade dough and put out on the counter to soften. 

4. Preheat oven to 350.  

5. Assemble the empanadas. If you're using the store-bought discs, you can roll them out a little thinner on a generously floured counter top. Also dust the tops of the dough with flour to keep the rolling pin from sticking. 

If you're using your homemade dough, unwrap the wax paper, cut across the cylinder to make 2-inch thick pieces. Flour your counter and your rolling pin and roll a piece out in to a circle about 4 inches in diameter.

Put a cereal bowl upside down on the dough and trim off any excess. Put 2 Tbsp filling on the bottom half of the disc, keeping the edges of the disc clean. Dipping your finger in a small bowl of water, wet the edge of the dough so that when you fold the dough over the filling to make a half circle, you can press the dough together along the outer edge and it sticks, sealing the filling inside. 

Press the tines of a fork along the sealed edge (like rays shining out from the filled center) to make a pretty pattern. Or you can fold the edges on top of themselves (see pictures above).

6. Repeat with the rest of the dough and filling, putting each assembled empanada on a sheet pan or cookie sheet. Prick the top of each empanada with a fork. Mix up the last egg in a small bowl and brush the tops of all the empanadas with egg wash.

6. Bake for 20 minutes or until golden and shiny. Serve immediately.

Valy Steverlynck shares her favorite dish from Argentina.

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Bosnian-Serb Meat Pie

Burek

As Sanja Bukarac, from Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina, taught Lindsay Sterling in Portland, Maine. Illustration by Margaret Owen. Photos by Matt Boutet.

Serves: 9
Cooking Time: 1:15

Ingredients

  • 1 package phyllo dough
  • 1 Tbsp vegetable oil
  • 2 pounds ground meat (she used beef, veal and pork)
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup plain Greek yogurt
  • 2 bunches scallions, sliced into rounds
  • salt
  • pepper
  • bottle of plain kefir
  • sour cream (optional)

Instructions

1. One day before cooking transfer phyllo from the freezer to the fridge. One hour before cooking, transfer phyllo box to the counter. Leave it all wrapped up; you don't want the filo to dry out.

2. In a large saute pan with a little oil, saute ground meat with scallions until the meat loses all raw pink spots and is evenly brown. I didn't see her drain the meat of liquified fat, but I had a lot so I drained it off. Season with salt and pepper. In a separate container whisk together the eggs and yogurt. Grease a rectangular baking dish with spray cooking oil. Preheat oven to 385.

3. On a large cutting board or tray, lay out 2 sheets of filo on top of one another with the long side of the rectangle facing you. Spoon ground beef onto the phyllo dough in the shape of a line about an inch thick parallel to the long edge closest to you, leaving an inch of phyllo on each end meatless. Use about 1/2 cup ground beef mixture to make the line. Drizzle yogurt mixture over the top. Roll the phyllo over the meat and keep rolling so you have a long cylander of meat rolled in phyllo. Be quick and confident when working with phyllo, and use as few touches as possible to do what you need to do. For example, just leave the roll you just did where it finished rolling as opposed to moving it somewhere. The more you touch phyllo, the more it falls apart. Cover it with a clean kitchen towel if you need to step away for a minute - otherwise it dries and breaks easily. Make 2 more of meat-in-phyllo rolls.

4. Now put another two sheets of phyllo down, this time off-setting them by 3 inches vertically to give you a little more surface area to roll the three meat rolls you just made inside these sheets of phyllo. Before you roll them up, spoon yogurt mixture in a zig zag pattern across all three rolls. Once they're bundled in the phyllo, transfer this "roll of rolls" into the baking dish, seam side down. Repeat this step two more times, fitting rolls flush against each other in the baking dish.

5. Spray the top of the meat pie with cooking oil and bake until golden and crispy, about 45 minutes. Cover with a clean kitchen towel for ten minutes to help the interior be soft.

Slice cross sections and serve with forks, and glasses of plain kefir with spoons. Instruct your guests to alternate bites of meat pie and spoonfuls of kefir. Also, some like a little sour cream with their meat pie.