Morning Walk, January 23, 2012, plus 2 New Dinner Recipes.

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RECIPES

Steak, Potato & Leek Pies w/ Homemade Flaky Butter Pie Crust
4 servings

Butter is one of my favorite food groups, and for me, there is no better use of butter than in a perfect, homemade, flaky, buttery pie crust.  Serve these savory pies with a crisp salad and you have a dinner that will make you say “oh my god!!”

3 tablespoons butter, divided
1 lb. steak (about 1 inch thick), cubed
1 large potato, peeled and cubed
1 large leek, white and pale green parts only, chopped and rinsed
½ cup water
1/2 teaspoon dry mustard
1 tablespoon steak sauce

Homemade Pie Crust:
2 cups flour
1 cup cold unsalted butter, cubed
1/2 tsp.+ salt
6-8 Tbs. ice cold water

1 egg, beaten for eggwash/glaze

Make Pie Crust: In a large bowl, cut the butter & salt into the flour (use a pastry cutter or two butter knives) until it resembles coarse grain – you want there to be pea-sized bits of butter throughout.  Add the cold water two tablespoons at a time, and then use the pastry cutter to fold/toss the water into the flour mixture.  You do not want to overwork the dough.  Continue adding water until there is no dry flour left on the sides or in the bottom of the bowl.  Working quickly, divide the mixture in half, lightly form two balls, wrap separately in plastic wrap and gently flatten them into disks.  Chill for 2 hours.

Melt 1 tablespoon butter in medium skillet over medium-high heat. Sprinkle steak cubes with salt and pepper. Add steak to skillet and cook until medium-rare, about 4 minutes.  Transfer steak to plate.

Melt remaining 2 tablespoons butter in same skillet. Add potato, leek, and dry mustard. Stir 1 minute. Reduce heat to medium, pour in ½ cup water, cover, and cook until potatoes are tender, stirring occasionally, about 8 minutes. Return beef and any accumulated juices to skillet. Add steak sauce and sauté 2 minutes. Remove skillet from heat. Cool completely.

Preheat oven to 400°F. Roll out 1/2 the dough on a floured surface to 1/8″ thickness and cut in half.  Repeat with other 1/2 of dough.  Brush edges with beaten egg.  Place 1/4 of the filling mixture on 1/2 of each of the 4 pieces of dough, fold dough over, seal, trim off excess and then crimp edges with the tines of a fork.  Brush top of pies with eggwash.   (I roll out my excess dough and fill with whatever I have on hand:  cheese, veggies, bacon, or cinnamon and sugar).

Place pies on a cookie sheet, bake for 15 minutes.  Rotate baking sheet and bake about 15 more minutes until crust is golden and filling is heated through.

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Pork Sugo with Soft Polenta & Whipped Ricotta Cheese
4 servings

The pork is tender, the sauce is slightly spicy, and the soft polenta and whipped ricotta give this dish a creamy (umami) and comforting texture.  Truly amazing!  For a more traditional Italian meal, skip the Polenta and Ricotta and serve over pasta… but after eating Sugo prepared this way… I don’t know why you would??

For the Pork Sugo:

2+ lbs. boneless pork shoulder (blade roast), excess fat removed
1 can (28 oz.) Italian Plum tomatoes
1/2 cup cannelini beans, pureed
3 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 oz. pancetta, diced (or bacon, sopresatta)
½ large yellow onion, minced
1 large carrot, minced
1 large celery rib, minced
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 tbsp. minced Italian parsley
1 tbsp. minced fresh sage
1 bay leaf
¼ tsp. hot pepper flakes, or to taste
½ cup dry red wine

Cut the meat into ⅓-inch cubes.  Put the tomatoes and their juices in a bowl and break until fine with your hands.

Heat a 4-quart Dutch oven over high heat. When hot, add the oil and swirl to coat. Add the meat, season with salt and pepper, and cook, stirring occasionally, until the meat is well browned and a crust begins to form on the bottom of the pot, 6 to 7 minutes. Reduce the heat if necessary to prevent burning. Add the pancetta and cook, stirring, for 2 minutes. Reduce the heat to medium and add the onion, carrot, celery, garlic, parsley, sage, bay leaf and hot pepper. Cook, stirring almost constantly, until the vegetables are soft, about 10 minutes. Add the red wine and, with a wooden spoon, loosen the browned bits on the bottom of the pot. Simmer until the wine evaporates. Add the tomatoes and pureed white beans (a good thickener).

Bring to a simmer, cover partially and adjust the heat to maintain a bare simmer. Cook until the meat is tender, 2+ hours. If the sauce is reducing too quickly, cover the pot. When done, remove the bay leaf. Taste and adjust the seasoning. Makes about 4 cups.

For the Creamy Polenta & Whipped Ricotta:
Start this 45 minutes before the Pork Sugo is done.

1 cup polenta (coarse cornmeal)
1 tsp. kosher salt
2 tbsp. unsalted butter
1/4-1/2 cup fresh parmesan, grated (to taste)

1 cup whole-milk ricotta (or cottage cheese)
Extra virgin olive oil (optional)

In a large, heavy saucepan, bring 2½ quarts of water (that’s a lot of water – 10 cups.  I used 8 cups because I used a fine grain cormeal and it soaked up every drop of that water), salt and butter to a boil over high heat. Add the polenta gradually, whisking constantly. Reduce the heat to maintain a gentle simmer and whisk until the polenta thickens. Switch to a wooden spoon and continue cooking, stirring often, until the polenta is smooth and no longer grainy, about 45 minutes. Stir in the grated parmesan cheese.

While the polenta cooks, put the ricotta (or cottage cheese) in a food processor with a drizzle of olive oil and process until smooth.

Divide the Pork Sugo into 4 bowls.  Top each portion with a ladle of Soft Polenta and a dollop of Whipped Ricotta.  Serve immediately.

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