Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Babootie Pie

So, I didn't win the KCRW summer pie contest. But everyone loved my pies. I made "Babootie Pie" which is actually based on a traditional South African curried meat dish that I grew up on. 
This dish is usually made with leftover lamb or goat from the weekend celebrations, ground up and curried with raisins and almonds and then baked with a custard on top. You would eat it with saffron rice, bananas, chutney and sometimes roasted coconut shreds. 
I took this idea and made it into a pie, because everything is better with pie. 
Here, I replaced the saffron rice with a saffron and tumeric crust. I also made the custard thicker so that the pie stays together. For the contest I decorated it with chutney and sliced bananas, but I suggest having them on the side, because it's fun to load up on these "sambals". 

Ukonwabele ukutya kwakho!! [bon appite in Xhosa]!


¼ cup cold water
⅛ teaspoon saffron
2 ½ cups unbleached, all-purpose flour (12 1/2 ounces)
1 teaspoon table salt
2 tablespoons sugar
¼ teaspoon turmeric 
12 tablespoons cold unsalted butter (1 1/2 sticks), cut into 1/4-inch slices
½ cup chilled solid vegetable shortening, cut into 4 pieces
¼ cup vodka, cold

  1. In a small bowl soak the saffron with the ¼ cup water. Place in the refrigerator until needed [about 10 min]
  2. Process 1 1/2 cups flour, salt, sugar and turmeric in food processor until combined, about 2 one-second pulses. Add butter and shortening and process until homogenous dough just starts to collect in uneven clumps, about 15 seconds (dough will resemble cottage cheese curds and there should be no uncoated flour). Scrape bowl with rubber spatula and redistribute dough evenly around processor blade. Add remaining cup flour and pulse until mixture is evenly distributed around bowl and mass of dough has been broken up, 4 to 6 quick pulses. Empty mixture into medium bowl.
  3. Take the saffron water from the refrigerator and ether pick out the saffron stems or use a small strainer. Sprinkle vodka and water over mixture. With rubber spatula, use folding motion to mix, pressing down on dough until dough is slightly tacky and sticks together. Divide dough into two even balls and flatten each into 4-inch disk. Wrap each in plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 45 minutes or up to 2 days.

  1. Remove dough from refrigerator; let stand at room temperature to soften slightly, about 10 minutes if dough has chilled for 30 minutes or 20 minutes if it has chilled overnight. (The dough should be pliable. Use your hands to squeeze the dough; if you can squeeze it without applying too much pressure, it is ready to roll.) Roll dough on lightly floured work surface to a 12-inch disk about 1/8-inch thick. Taking your rolling pin, gently grab one end of the dough and roll the pin towards the other side of the dough so that it gently rolls up around the pin. Grab your pie dish and place the end of the pie dough at the edge of the dish closest to you. Then slowly unroll the dough into the dish. 
  2. Working around circumference of pan, press dough carefully into pan corners by gently lifting dough edges with one hand while pressing around pan bottom with other hand . Trim edge to 1/2-inch beyond pan lip. Tuck this rim of dough underneath itself so that folded edge is about 1/4-inch beyond pan lip; flute dough in your own fashion.  Next use your forefinger and thumb, press the dough evenly up the sides from the bottom to increase the height of the rim. Refrigerate pie shell for 40 minutes and then freeze for 20 minutes.
  3. Meanwhile, adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 375 degrees. Press doubled 12-inch square of aluminum foil inside dough shell; evenly distribute 1 cup or 12 ounces ceramic or metal pie weights over foil. Bake, leaving foil and weights in place, until dough dries out, about 17 minutes. Carefully remove foil and weights by gathering sides of foil and pulling up and out. Continue baking until lightly golden brown, about 9 minutes more. If your meat isn’t ready, pull the pie shell out - do not let it overcook. 

[my first attempt at the pie: I baked it with the bay leaves sticking out and I fried the bananas, which ended up being too overpowering]


2 slices white bread, crusts cut off
1 cup whole milk
1 tablespoon oil [Coconut, Olive Oil, etc.]
1 large sweet onion, finely chopped
2 tablespoons fresh grated ginger
2 lbs Ground Beef [Traditioanlly it’s Lamb, but it works with all sorts of meat: Turkey, Buffalo, I’ve even used Quorn for vegetarian Babootie]
1 teaspoon salt
½ green apple, chopped finely
2 cloves
¼ cup slivered almonds
½ cup raisins [either black or white]
2 tablespoons curry powder
2 tablespoons apricot jam
1 lemon, juiced
6 bay leaves
3 eggs
Pinch of salt
Fresh ground pepper

[I would start cooking this when you put the pie dough in the oven to start pre-baking it]

  1. Take the 2 pieces of bread and place in a small caserol dish, cover with the milk and let soak
  2. Place the Oil in a large Skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and ginger and cook until the onion starts turning translucent. Don’t caramelize the onion! Add the ground meat and salt. Let it cook all the way through, using a potato masher to break up the meet. While this is cooking, prepare all the remaining ingredients except the eggs and pepper in medium bowl. 
  3. When the meat is cooked all the way through for poultry, or until a very light pink for red meat, take the pan off the heat and drain ALL the liquid off the mixture using a lid as a strainer. 
  4. Return the pan to the stove but do not return to heat. Combine the remaining ingredients into the meat. Take the slices of bread out of the milk but do not throw the milk out. Wring out the bread as much as you can and crumble the bread into the meat mixture, combine. 
  5. You can make this meat the night before - like all curries, it gets better the longer it sits. If you do make it the night before, set it out on the kitchen counter at least 10 min before you bake it, so that it isn’t cold. 
  6. Take ¾ cup of the reserved milk and wisk with the 3 eggs and a pinch of salt. 
  7. If using a pre-baked pie dough, after the 9 min browning of the shell is completed, spoon the meat mixture into the shell, and gently pack down [be careful not to break the shell]. You should be able to fit almost all the mixture into the shell - you want to make it compact so that it holds together. Do not fill past the ridge of the shell. 
[depending on who you are serving it to, remove the bay leaves and cloves before baking. If it’s among friends I suggest you leave it in for more flavor and warn them not to eat it:)]
  1. Pour the egg and milk mixture over the top. Take a fork and gently stab the top of the pie to allow for the custard to penetrate the meat. Do this until there is a thin layer of custard on the top that will not soak. Do not fill higher than the rim of the pie. Grind some fresh pepper on the top. 
  2. Place pie into the oven at 375 degrees for about 40 min. When the custard starts turning a golden brown you know your babootie is done. 
  3. Take out of the oven and let cool for about 10 min before you serve it.


These are the “sides” that you put on your babootie when you serve it. 

3 bananas, sliced thinly
Apricot chutney [either mild or spicy - this is the BEST chutney to eat with it. You can get it at some high-end grocery stores and at Cost Plus]
½ cup dried coconut flakes, toasted

Prepare these ingredients in different bowls and place on table with the babootie. The coconut is not as important as the other two. 


Babootie is traditionally served with rice. If you don’t want to make it as a pie, which is not as good :) follow the babootie meat recipe and bake without the custard for ½ hour at 350 degrees. Then place the custard on top and bake for an additional 10 min. Prepare some saffron rice [you can get the instant saffron rice in the “ethnic” isle of most grocery stores] and serve with the meat and sambals. Although, like I said, not as good as the pie. Everything tastes better in pie form. 

[my beautiful non-award winning pie!!]

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