Saturday, March 20, 2010

Beef & Leek Turnovers


The supermarket had a buy one get one sale on 93% lean ground beef last weekend so I snapped up a couple of packages because I sure do love a bargain.  And who doesn't love ground beef?  Besides being economical, ground beef is the cornerstone of the most popular family-friendly, budget-friendly recipes. Hamburgers, meatballs, meat sauce, lasagna, salisbury steak, stuffed peppers, stuffed cabbage, the list goes on and on.  Whatever your favorite dish happens to be, I'm pretty sure you could find a way to work some ground beef into it.  Take a looksee at this genius creation of hamburger pizza.

As of late, pastry has been the object of my culinary obsession.  In the past week, I've baked an apple pie, some really tasty lemon cranberry scones (which I will post for you soon), and the beef and leek turnovers you see in the picture above.  The turnovers came about because I wanted to bake something savory wrapped in a flaky crust.  Because flaky crust is awesome.  And because the scene from Great Expectations where Pip steals a pork pie from his sister's pantry popped (inexplicably) into my head while I was surveying the contents of the freezer and trying to decide what to cook for dinner.   Somehow, somewhere deep in my thought process, pork pie became beef pie, which then became beef turnover.  And I had a couple of leeks leftover from an earlier meal so beef turnover became beef and leek turnover.  And with that, another great recipe was born.

All you Dickens fans, check this out.  If you know the story, you will chuckle.  If you don't know the story, then you obviously skipped a lot of ninth grade English classes.



Beef & Leek Turnovers
printer friendly recipe

For the pastry:

2 1/2 cups flour
1 teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon dry mustard
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup vegetable shortening
1 stick (8 tablespoons) cold butter, cut into small pieces
6 tablespoons ice water

Put all of the ingredients except for the ice water and the egg into the bowl of a food processor. Pulse a few times until the mixture resembles coarse meal. Drizzle in the ice water and pulse again until the mixture comes together as a dough. It will be wet in some places and crumbly in others.

Pour out the dough onto a floured surface. Gather all of the dough, including the crumbly pieces, into a ball. Quickly knead three or four times. Fashion into a ball and flatten out into a disk about 8 inches in diameter. Cover with plastic wrap and allow to rest in the fridge for at least an hour.

Crack the egg into a small bowl, beat and set aside until later.

For the filling:

1 1/2 pounds extra lean ground beef
2 tablespoon olive oil
2 leeks, washed well, trimmed and chopped small
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 carrot, diced very small
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon allspice
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper
1 cup beef broth
1/2 cup plain tomato sauce

Heat the oil over medium in a large skillet. Add the leeks, garlic and carrot. Saute for 10 minutes, until softened but not browned.

Add the beef. Saute until fully cooked through, about 10-15 minutes, while breaking up the meat into very small pieces.

Add all of the spices and stir well.

Add the beef broth and tomato sauce. Stir well.

Simmer uncovered for 5-7 minutes then cover and simmer for another 20 minutes. Stir occasionally.

Remove from heat. Pour into a large bowl and allow to cool completely before filling the turnovers. This step could take a couple of hours, even in the fridge, so plan ahead accordingly when making this recipe.

To prepare the turnovers:

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.

Cut the pastry dough in half. Put one half back in the fridge and put the other on a floured board. Roll out to the thickness of a pie crust, about a scant quarter inch thick. Cut out circles that are 6-7" in diameter. I use a small plate as a guide and just run my knife around it. Gather up any dough scraps from around the circles, press into a ball and put back into the fridge while you work with the circles you've just cut out.

Make sure the circles aren't stuck to the board by gently lifting them up and dusting underneath with a bit of flour. Brush the reserved beaten egg around the perimeter of each circle. Place a slightly heaping 1/4 cup of the meat filling in the middle of each circle. Take care not to scoop up too much liquid with the meat. Gently fold over one half of the circle, to create a half circle shape. Firmly press together the exposed edges to seal the turnover. Crimp the edge with a fork. Place on a baking sheet sprayed with nonstick cooking spray. Brush the tops of the turnovers with beaten egg.

Repeat with remaining pastry dough and meat filling. You should be able to create 8 turnovers.

Bake for 20 minutes, until the crust is golden brown and looks flaky. If you need to use two baking sheets to bake all of the turnovers at once, then switch their positions in the oven at the 10 minute mark to ensure even baking. Use a spatula to transfer the turnovers to a wire rack and allow to cool for 10 minutes before serving.

Makes 8 large turnovers.

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