4-18-10

CURRIED LAMB PASTIES WITH TAMARIND

MAKES 6 SMALL PIES

Ok, you caught me: I’m cheating here, reaching back into my files for an oldie but goodie. All sorts of exciting assignments and surprises have popped up over the past few days — more on which I’m sure you’ll hear later. But in the meantime, I’m ashamed to admit that the most immediate result has been to turn the 365kitchen quite bare. There have been no hot scones or Nicoise salads or simmering pots of braciole; this has been a week of subsistence on coffee and cold leftover spaghetti.

It happens.

But…the next time it happens to you, let me tell you, you will be a whole lot happier if you have a few of these pasties packed away in your freezer, ready to come to the rescue at the first rumble of a tummy. Smile-inspiring comfort food of the highest order, they have the added appeal of being a cinch to make and squirrel away in bulk. And though pasties are certainly a little on the rich side, I’ve found they actually hit the spot on all but the most sweltering of August days — and definitely couldn’t be better suited for a drizzly spring Sunday. (In fact: for one entire summer in Cardiff, Wales I grabbed one of these suckers from a stall on the corner for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.) I first developed this recipe for a feature that appeared in the Los Angeles Times a few months back, and if lamb’s not your thing, you’ll find other riffs on the savory pie theme there. Whatever filling suits you, though, just take my advice and make a double batch. Call it a contingency plan.

2 tablespoons butter
1 large yellow onion, chopped
1 tablespoon garlic, minced
1 lb lamb shoulder chops (or 3/4 lb. lamb stew meat)
2 cups sweet potatoes (about 2) peeled and chopped into a small cubes
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 tablespoon water
1 tablespoon harissa
2 tablespoons red curry powder
1 teaspoon cayenne
1 teaspoon crushed fennel seeds
1 teaspoon corriander
2 tablespoon tamarind paste
Salt and pepper to taste
1 batch basic pie dough (try this one), chilled
1 egg, lightly beaten

1. Melt butter in a small saucepan over medium heat, then add chopped onion and sauté until softened, about 5 minutes. Add minced garlic and reduce heat.

2. While the onions and garlic cook, trim the lamb meat from the bone into ? inch pieces (you should end up with about 3/4 lb). Add lamb to the onion and garlic mix and cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally for about 5 minutes, or until lamb is no longer pink.

3. Add tomato paste, water, harrissa and cubed sweet potatoes to pan, reduce heat to medium low and cover to let steam, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes or until potatoes have begun to lose their firmness. Add curry powder, cayenne, fennel seed, coriander, and tamarind paste and stir, scraping the side of the pan to incorporate any crusty bits. Cook 5-8 minutes more, until most of the liquid has evaporated and the potatoes are nearly soft. Stir again, season with salt and pepper. Remove pan from heat, and set aside to cool.

4. Heat oven to 375° F. Remove chilled dough from refrigerator and divide into six equal-sized balls. On a clean, floured surface, press each ball into a flattened disc approximately 6-7 inches in diameter.

5. Going one at a time, brush the edges of each disc with beaten egg and add a 1/3 cup scoop mound of cooled lamb filling to the center. Then fold over the dough over to make a half-circle, crimp edges to close, and transfer to a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Brush top of crescents all over with beaten egg. Cut two steam vents in the top of each. Bake for 50 minute or until they are a deep, golden brown.

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