I pictured a mound of overlapping circles of golden-brown potatoes strewn with sprigs of green. Instead, I ended up with a single circle of potatoes surrounding a bird’s nest of potato strips. Such are the uncertainties of creation.
I have a deep-seated fondness for pies in almost any form, andÂ about this time last yearÂ published an article at Kitchen Window on NPR’s Web site about pot pies. An online pie baking contest caught my attention and as I thought about itÂ I envisionedÂ a steak and mushroom pie, flavored with juniper and rosemary, and encased in a “pastry” of sliced potaoes – a twist on the English cottage pie.
I checked the rules and the only real restriction was that the pie had to be enclosed. No problem, I thought. I jotted down my ideas – a proto-recipe – and got to work.
In general the pie came together smoothly and much as I’d envisioned, with one exception. I underestimated the number of potatoes I’d need and at the end found I didn’t have enough potato slices to cover the top. My solution was to rinse the peelings and cover the center with them. I knew they were thin enough to cook completely in the oven, but I didn’t anticipate them curling up into light delicious potato chips – hence the birds nest in the center.
Steak and Mushroom Pie
3 ea md. Yukon gold potatoes
2 ea sm. carrots – cut into 1/2″ dice
3 tbsp olive oil
1 lb sirloin – sliced very thin and seasoned with salt and pepper
1/2 lb baby portabella mushrooms – sliced
1/2 ea lg. onion – diced
1/2 c cut, frozen Italian beans
1 tbsp juniper berries – crushed
1/2 tsp dried thyme
salt and pepper to taste
2 tsp fresh rosemary – minced
1 sprig fresh rosemary
1 1/2 c beef stock
1/2 c red wine
3 tbsp butter – melted
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Peel (reserving peelings) and slice potatoes into 1/8 inch thick rounds. Add potatoes to water and cook until just tender – about 5 minutes. Scoop out potatoes and drain, reserving water. Bring pot back to a boil and toss in diced carrots. Cook until tender – about 10 minutes. Drain.
Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a large skillet over medium high heat. Brown sliced meat in two batches and save in the pot you cooked the potatoes and carrots in.
Add the remaining tablespoon of olive oil to the skillet and reduce heat to medium. Add mushrooms, onion, thyme, juniper, and minced rosemary to the skillet and cook until mushrooms have given up most of their liquid. Add mixture to steak.
Heat oven to 400F.
Pick the end pieces from the potatoes and mash – You need about 1/3 cup of mashed potatoes.
Deglaze skillet with wine and reduce by half. Add stock and reduce by 1/3. Stir in mashed potatoes. Add to meat mixture along with carrots and frozen beans. Mix thoroughly.
Line a pie plate with overlapping slices of potato. Add meat mixture to pie. Cover outside edge of the pie with overlapping slices of potatoes. Rinse and dry about hlf the potatoe peelings and layer those over the center. Drizzle potatoes and peelings with melted butter and season with salt and pepper. Strip the leaves from the sprig of rosemary and sprinkle over the top.
Cook on the middle rack of the oven for 35 – 45 minutes until lightly browned.
KevinÂ Weeks is a Gather food correspondent (Paisano), personal chef, cooking teacher, and writer in Knoxville, Tennessee who spends too many hours on his feet, cooking. “Paisano” is a column focused on peasant dishes from around the world. To read more of Kevin’s writings or connect to him click here. His blog,Seriously Good, is read by 100,000 cooks a month and in addition he writes a weekly column forSpot-Onand is the Guide for Cooking for Two at About.com.