No. 80 & 81: Irish Beef Hand Pies & Roasted Cabbage with Bacon

Hope you had a Happy St. Patrick's Day!

I love this holiday. My grandmother was a full 1/4 Irish, which I like to think makes me a 1/4 Irish. Right? (Don't think about it too much, I'm sure that's how the math works out:)

As a family with lineage from the Emerald Isle, we took St. Patty's seriously growing up. Those not wearing green were absolutely pinched. My father also has to this day one of the best pieces of flair I have ever seen to commemorate the day, a button that reads: World's Tallest Leprechaun

We're a tall family so that cracks me up.

And as you know, my last name is now McCormick. Marrying into the McCormick/McBride crew in 2008 only helped bolster my love of all things Irish and green.

Hand Pies

Beef and potato stew is as Irish as corned beef and cabbage. I thought about making the latter way too late in the game, so I adapted these 'handy' pies (get it?) for a fun way to get our Irish fix.

Ingredients

Serves 4
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1/4 head green cabbage, shredded
1/2 pound red potatoes, scrubbed and diced
1/3 sweet onion, diced
1 garlic clove, minced
1 pound ground beef sirloin
3 tablespoons tomato paste
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 teaspoon dried rosemary
Coarse salt and ground pepper
All-purpose flour, for rolling
2 piecrusts (9 inches each), homemade or store-bought

To make

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

In a medium saucepan, heat oil over medium; add cabbage, onion and potatoes.

Potatoes

Cook until beginning to brown, 7 to 9 minutes. Add beef and garlic. Cook, breaking up meat with a spoon, until no longer pink, about 5 minutes. Stir in tomato paste, Worcestershire, thyme, rosemary and 1 cup water. Cover, and cook until potatoes are tender, about 15 minutes. Lightly mash mixture with a fork. Season with salt and pepper. Let cool completely.

On a lightly floured work surface, roll each crust into a 14-inch square; cut each into 4 equal squares. Place 1/2 cup filling on one half of each square, leaving a 1/2-inch border around the filling.

Filling

Brush borders with water; fold dough over filling to enclose. Crimp edges with a fork to seal. With a paring knife or scissors, cut 3 small vents in each.

Ready to bake

Bake on two foil-lined rimmed baking sheets until golden brown, 10 to 12 minutes, rotating sheets halfway through.

Cook's Note for Freezing:
You can prepare these pies and then freeze them for later use. Arrange unbaked pies on a baking sheet and freeze until firm, about 1 hour. Then wrap each pie in foil. Place in a resealable plastic bag; freeze up to 2 months. To bake from frozen, increase the baking time to 28 to 30 minutes.

Roasted Cabbage

You could easily do a vegetarian version of this simple side as well.

Ingredients

Serves 4
1 large head green cabbage, outer leaves removed
Olive oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
4 slices thick bacon

To make

Heat the oven to 450 degrees.

Cut the cabbage into quarters and slice the bottom of each piece at an angle to remove the stem core. Cut each quarter in half again so you have eight wedges. Lay these down on a large baking sheet and drizzle lightly with olive oil. Sprinkle generously with salt and pepper. Cut each slice of bacon into small strips and lay on top of the cabbage.

Prepped

Roast for 30 minutes, flipping the cabbage wedges once halfway through. Don't worry if they fall apart a bit, that means the roasting is doing it's job.

If the edges aren't browned enough for your taste after 30 minutes, put them back in for five-minute increments until they are.

Final

(I shouldn't have pulled them at 25 minutes, they could have used a bit more char.)

Serve immediately while hot.

The results

I didn't read ahead that the pie filling had to 'cool completely' before using, so we had the roasted cabbage as an appetizer. And it was so good!

Cabbage

I was shocked at what a Brussels sprout like taste this cabbage took on after roasting. The bacon definitely gave it a smokey, robust quality. In fact, I doubt if you top the cabbage with bacon that you'll need to bother with oil at all.

If you prefer to skip the bacon, a honey vinegar syrup would also be delicious spread over these at the end of the roasting process.

As for the pies, oh goodness. This filling (much like chicken potpie filling) is a wonderful base for all sorts of things. I'm glad we have some leftover.

Pies

I am not exactly a whiz with dough - store bought or otherwise. As a result these pies were a bit lopsided and oddly shaped, but we loved eating them since they were just like a restaurant-made hot pocket. I also made them about one quarter the size suggested for a truly handy serving.

Overall, a great tribute night to the Irish!

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