Those of us who cook often find ideas for new recipes in a myriad of ways. Whether it is a classic food combination used in unusual ways, a fusion of two cultures or a mashup of family favorites — you too can create your own delicious new dish.
Lately, I’ve been motivated by Evie, a young lady I share a mentoring relationship with. She is a burgeoning young cook with an adventurous palate. Together, through this recipe, we hope to give you a road map to invent your own recipes from foods you already like.
We started with just a picture of a savory pie. It looked like potato slices between meatballs covered with cheese. Evie was enthusiastic about making this because it looked unique and delicious with lots of cheese. Once lit up with an idea, it was time to roll up our sleeves and wash our hands.
For our first draft, we started with a scalloped potato base and a flavor profile akin to Greek cuisine, which felt like Easter.
Next, we figured out our protein and how it would be cooked. We tried two types of meatballs, one beef and the other lamb.
Yukon Gold potatoes anchored our protein. We sliced potatoes ¼ inch thick. We used three types of cheese: Swiss slices, Brie and Monterey Jack.
We added spinach and dollops of pesto in addition to milk that made a pan sauce.
We liked our first pie, but it needed a few tweaks. The pesto was a bit greasy and the Swiss on the top made a hard crust we didn’t like.
On our second attempt, we used lamb stew meat. We seasoned the lamb then coated it in seasoned flour, seared and put it in an Instant Pot to pressure cook. We put the Swiss cheese in between the bottom potato layers and made a cream sauce to cover the potatoes.
Next, we added a layer of broken up stew meat dolloped with Brie. Then we put another potato layer on top and added grated Monterey Jack cheese to finish.
We liked this lamb pie a lot. The added cream sauce was overkill, so we went back to just milk. But we lost the unique look of the dish, which attracted us in the first place.
We made one more attempt with cubes of lamb loin. We also decided to slice the potatoes in two different thicknesses. Here’s our recipe:
8 lamb chops, use just the lean meat, cut into 1 inch cubes. You get about 3 cubes per chop.
Season lamb with:
1 tablespoon kosher salt
1 generous tablespoon fresh rosemary, chopped
2 tablespoons dried oregano
1 teaspoon ground coriander
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon black pepper
1 tablespoon garlic powder
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
10 Yukon Gold potatoes
Half an onion
2 tablespoons soft butter
5 slices Swiss cheese
3 ounces Brie
6 ounces grated Monterey Jack
Whole milk, as needed
Sear lamb cubes for one to two minutes each side on medium high heat. Do not overcook.
You will need a mandolin for the potatoes. Cut four potatoes into one-third-inch thick slices and the remaining potatoes to one-sixth of an inch. Cook the thicker slices in boiling salted water until tender. Scoop out with a strainer. Add a little more water to the pan if needed and boil the more thinly sliced potatoes until just fork tender, drain and set aside.
Grate half of a medium onion. Squeeze off juice.
Spray a pie plate with cooking spray. Lay half of the thin potato slices in a spiral on the base. Sprinkle onions, flour, salt, pepper and rosemary, then 2 tablespoons soft butter, pinched off into little pieces. Next cut five Swiss cheese slices in half on a diagonal. Lay on top of potatoes in a pinwheel pattern. Repeat another layer. Pour milk over potatoes and cheese to the bottom of the top layer.
Add the meat along the edge and then do an inner layer, leaving space around the meat. Cut the thicker potato slices in half and put between the meat. Then cut three ounces of Brie into small pieces and place evenly in the gaps between the potatoes and meat. Sprinkle 1 tablespoon of minced garlic on top with any leftover onion. Cover the pie with a handful of chopped fresh parsley and then 6 ounces of grated Monterey Jack cheese.
Put the pie on a cookie sheet and into a 350-degree preheated oven for 30 minutes. Cool before slicing.
Savory Lamb Hand Pies
As is often the case when creating a new recipe, your tasters might suffer from some type of digestion fatigue. Really, how much lamb and potato can you eat in a week?
But you don’t want leftovers to go to waste. In our second draft of the lamb pie recipe, we had extra braised lamb, potatoes and Swiss cheese.
A conundrum. How to make these ingredients not taste like leftovers? We all know necessity is a mother and mom (or dad) has to put food on the table.
So, I pulled out a partial bag of Rhodes Frozen Dinner Rolls, an item I always try to keep on hand. I followed the simple instructions to thaw and with a little flour, rolled them into 4-inch disks.
Next, I layered a slice of potato, a quarter slice of cheese, a large tablespoon of lamb and a teaspoon of capers in the center of the dough. Then I pinched the dough together like an envelope.
Egg wash went on the bottom and top of the hand pies. And with a heavy hand, I sprinkled “Everything but the Bagel” seasoning on top and put them in a 350-degree oven for 20 minutes, until a light golden brown. We served them with Chinese ketchup and hot mustard.
When my tasters tore through the whole pile of them and with the stuffed mouthed inquiry of more, I knew I found a keeper.
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