Pastel – Israeli Meat Pie in Puff Pastry

In my continuing search for uses for the superb French puff pastry from Trader Joe’s, I found another High Holiday-appropriate dish on the NYT Cooking site, an Israeli dish of seasoned ground beef encased in puff pastry.

Reading the comments and anticipating the flavors, I made so many changes that I honestly have to call this recipe my own.  We just partook and I am farklempt – delicious beyond all my expectations, and plenty of leftovers to ejoy during the week:

Pastel – Israeli Meat Pie in Puff Pastry

6-8 servings

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INGREDIENTS:

1 package Trader Joe’s puff pastry

2 T olive oil

1 lb each ground lamb and lean ground beef

2 large carrots, 2 medium sweet onions, and one small shallot chopped finely

1/3 cup pine nuts

1/3 cup golden raisins

Seasonings (suggested, but to taste): 1 T kosher salt; 1 t black pepper; 1 t smoked paprika; 1 t cumin; 1 t ras el hanout; 1 t ground sumac; 1 t Za’atar; 1-1/2 t cinnamon;    1 t allspice; 1/2 t ground ginger; 1 t dill weed

3 eggs

1/4 cup chopped Italian parsley

2 T toasted sesame seeds

PREPARATION:

Heat olive oil in large skillet (12″ cast iron) on medium heat and sauté carrots, onions and shallots until softened, about 8 minutes.  Add the ground meats and all seasonings and sauté another 10 minutes or so until meats are browned.  Remove to a large bowl, add the pine nuts and raisins, and allow to cool.

When mixture is cool, add two lightly beaten eggs.  Line the bottom and sides of a 2-quart oven-proof baking dish, about 8-9 x 11″, with one sheet of the puff pastry.  Using a slotted spoon, add the the meat mixture into the pastry-lined pan with just some but not all of the liquid in the mix.  Sprinkle the top with the chopped parsley and lay the second sheet of puff pastry over it, pinching around the edges to seal it.  Chill 1-4 hours.

When ready to bake, preheat oven to 400.  Beat the remaining egg and brush the top layer of pastry with it.  then sprinkle with sesame seeds.  Bake for 40 minutes, until crust is golden, and allow to rest for 15-20 minutes before cutting to serve.

 

 

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My New Favorite Meatloaf – Lamb & Veal

There are several recurrent themes to many of the recipes I’ve posted here – Middle Eastern, lamb, lemon zest, pine nuts, to name a few.  And meatloaf.  Totally adaptable and limited only by one’s imagination, starting with the choice of ground meat, through to the minced vegetables, choice of binder grain or starch, the moistener, and finally the herbs and spices.

This one is my new favorite, the culmination of many years of meatloaf experimentation, and drawing on a few tricks I’ve picked up from America’s Test Kitchen.

But first, a few of my hard and fast rules about meatloaf in general:

  1. Never bake a meatloaf in a loaf pan.  Everyone likes a bit of the crusty exterior, and you’ll never get that unless you bake it free and clear of walls.  Instead, line a loaf pan with plastic wrap and fill it with your mixture.  Then turn it out into your baking pan.
  2. Always make enough for leftovers.  Not only does it reheat nicely, but meatloaf sandwiches are so damn good, it’s enough reason just to make one in the first place.
  3. Never use ground sirloin – it will turn out dry.
  4. If you’re using turkey, it should be the freshly ground dark meat turkey from Whole Foods – they grind it coarsely so it’s got a nice texture.  All other packaged ground turkey is mush.
  5. Schmeer a coating of ketchup over the whole loaf for a nice glaze and criss-cross it with  2-4 bacon slices (2 for an ‘x’, 4 for a Union Jack, or Reebok logo if you prefer)

While I’ve written this recipe with a combination of lamb and veal, it could just as easily be done with any 2-pound combination of ground chuck, dark meat turkey (see rule #4), or ground beef & pork.  The Middle Eastern flavors will come shining through.

MIDDLE EASTERN LAMB & VEAL MEATLOAF

INGREDIENTS – A LONG LIST BUT WELL WORTH IT:

1 lb each ground lamb and ground veal

2 large eggs

1 cup whole milk, or low-fat milk mixed with some half & half to make it richer

1/2 cup uncooked rolled oats

1/2 cup chopped Italian parsley

1 cup minced sweet onion

1/2 cup minced red bell pepper

2 plump cloves garlic minced

1 tbsp fresh lemon juice

2 tbsp Worcestershire

grated zest of 1/2 orange and 1/2 lemon (I always have lemons available but rarely oranges, so use 2 tsp dried orange zest)

1/2 cup pine nuts

1 cup golden raisins (and if you hate raisins like some people I know, sorry – they’re an essential to balancing the flavors; maybe try dried chopped apricots, but I won’t vouch for the results)

1 tsp each allspice, thyme, and unflavored gelatin (the latter guarantees a moist loaf)

2 tsp each dried mint and ras al hanout

1-1/2 tsp kosher salt

1 tsp black pepper

2-3 tbsp organic ketchup

2-4 strips bacon

PREPARATION:

If you have the time, this is best put together and refrigerated a few hours before baking.

In a large bowl mix together the meats with your hands.  In a separate medium or large bowl, beat the eggs and combine with all other ingredients except the ketchup and bacon.  Then pour this into the bowl with the meat and use your hands to get it all mixed together.  It will feel very wet at first but will come together as you work it with your hands.

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Line a loaf pan with plastic wrap, with about 6″ of overhang at each end.  Fill it to the top with the meat mixture, patting down to make sure you don’t leave any air pockets.  Fold the plastic wrap back over the top and chill until ready to bake.  I use a Le Creuset loaf pan, but choose any one that will accommodate this as shown.

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When ready to bake, preheat oven to 350 on convect (countertop Breville works like a charm for this).  Pull back the plastic wrap from the top and carefully invert the loaf over a lightly greased baking pan large enough to allow some room around the sides.  Schmeer all over with the ketchup and lay your bacon strips on top.

IMG_0752Bake for 1-1/4 hours and allow to rest about 5 minutes before cutting into generous thick portions.  Enjoy with mashed potatoes or pilaf and a nice green vegetable or salad.  And look forward to sandwiches!IMG_0753