Not all food needs to look good in order to taste good, does it? That's what I told myself when I saw the cooked pot pie. I consider myself a pretty darn good cook—Erica even once did a photo essay for a college paper on just my hands making homemade pasta—but I guess I tried to cut some corners here. So, although this dish was delicious, it wouldn't exactly pass a magazine photo shoot. Well, unless the photographer is your husband or the subject was how not to make pie crust.
Although Elinor Klivans might have a hard time recognizing this, it's a solar cooked version of her Costa Rican Spicy Picadillo & Plantain Pot Pie. You can find the recipe in her book Pot Pies: Yumminess in a Dish. I found the book several years ago while browsing through Borders Books. Actually Erica saw it first and brought it to my attention. I kept looking at it and putting it down only to pick it back up. I had never made a pot pie before, they didn't exactly interest me, but something about the book kept saying "buy me," so I did. I'm not sure I'd classify all the recipes as pot pies per se—or not what I always thought of as a pot pie—but so far every recipe I've tried has been delicious no matter how you classify them.
Rick and I were eating alone last evening and I wanted something a bit different. I opened the freezer and we had one pound of ground turkey (managers special, no less), several packages of various types of sausages, loads of frozen vegetables, two homemade hot dog rolls, some homemade frozen stuffed shells, and two half filled ice cube trays. I was kind of tired of sausage, so the ground turkey it was. Next, I opened the Pot Pie cookbook. I flipped through the book several times and each time passed this recipe by, thinking ick, plantains in a pot pie, sounds gross. Now, don't get me wrong. I love plantains. I usually diagonally slice them in rounds and sauté them in butter until they're golden brown, then sprinkle lightly with salt and serve on the side. But this recipe calls for chopped onion, chopped green pepper, garlic, ground beef, crushed tomatoes, raisins, green olives, parsley, wine, crushed red pepper, and plantains. Seemed kind of an odd combo, but I kept staring at the delicious looking photo and thinking, well, maybe it's not that weird. And I just happened to have two plantains on hand.
|Interesting pie crust, but delicious nonetheless. photo by Rick|
To change a dish like this to be cooked in a solar oven I often start it inside on the kitchen stove. (i.e. by browning the beef, adding the vegetables and sautéing 'til soft, then adding all the rest of the ingredients before covering it with the pie crust and placing it in the solar oven to finish cooking.) But, it was supposed to be gorgeously sunny all day and we're in prime solar cooking days here on Long Island, so I chose to do it all outside. I broke up the ground turkey (no ground beef in my impoverished freezer) and added the chopped onion and green pepper, stirred to mix, then placed the covered pot outside until the ground turkey looked cooked through (close to an hour today, and you know I went running during that time). Next I added the crushed tomatoes, raisins, olives, plantain, crushed red pepper, parsley, and wine and placed back outside to meld the flavors while I showered and then made the pie crust. This is where I fouled up. I have to admit to being in a rush and not handling the crust with care. I didn't let it chill at all, and pie crust really does need to chill so you can roll it out, so it broke as I tried to get it off the counter. I scraped it up, sort of patchworked it on top as best I could, and set the whole thing back outside for the third and last time. Between the initial patchworking of the crust and the juggling from the constant repositioning of the solar oven around the yard, the crust took on a life of its own as the juices bubbled up from underneath. But, hey, it still tasted great. I left the pot pie in the solar oven until dinner time, around 6:30 p.m. The pie was still all hot and steamy and smelled delicious. I nervously scooped some up, scared to taste olives, tomatoes, raisins, and bananas (plantain) in the same bite. Amazingly, it tasted as wonderful as it smelled and I had second helpings, as did Rick. I wanted to go back for thirds, but I restrained myself and left it for, well, leftovers for lunch today.
Not only is this dish yummy, as the cookbook claims, but it's also very economical, especially when you factor in the manager's special $1.99/lb. ground turkey replacement for the more expensive ground beef the recipe calls for. The two plantains cost $1 (and can often be found for less). The rest of the ingredients I always have on hand, making the true cost hard to figure.
So, although Klivans takes liberty with her definition of a pot pie, she made me a pot pie convert. They're quick and easy and taste delicious, and work wonderfully in the kitchen oven and the solar oven alike. Pick up a copy of Pot Pies: Yumminess in a Dish for loads of great ideas. (But please, chill the pie crust before rolling!!!!)