Speaking of weird! I’ve been musing about mince pies for some time now, this being the time of year that they’re mentioned very often. They befuddle me!! They’re sweet – they’re desserts (to the best of my knowledge), but they have beef drippings in them. Or something like that, I’m not completely sure. I’m fascinated by the intersection of sweet and savory. I like salty-sweet things, and I like an unexpected touch of sweetness in a savory dish, like raisins with greens, or guava paste in an empanada. Lately I’ve found myself drawn to the savory side. So I had the idea of making little mince pies, but making them savory, with black bean mince, which is something I invented all by myself!!! And then adding a few sweet touches, like parsnips, apples, raisins and clementine zest. I think they turned out quite good! The black beans, sage, shallots, and rosemary add depth, the smoked gouda and smoked paprika add…well, smokiness! The pecans add crunch, and the roasted parsnips and apples add a pleasant, not-overpowering sweetness. These were very good with mashed potatoes!! If you didn’t feel like making the crust, I think this would make a nice dressing or stuffing.
Here’s Strange Meadow Lark, by Dave Brubeck.
2 1/2 cups flour
1 t salt
lots of black pepper
1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter – frozen
1/4 cup olive oil
Mix the flour, salt and pepper in a large bowl. Grate in the butter, and stir it in with a fork till you have a roughly crumbly texture. Stir in the olive oil. Add just enough ice water to form a workable dough – I think I added about 3/4 cup. Knead briefly, to be sure the oil and butter are evenly incorporated, and then form a neat ball. Wrap the ball in foil and chill in the refrigerator for at least half an hour.
2 medium-sized parsnips, peeled and cut into 1/3-inch dice
olive oil to coat the parsnips
1 T olive oil
1 shallot, minced
1 clove garlic, minced
2 t rosmemary – minced
1 t sage
1 can black beans, rinsed and well-drained
2 pieces whole wheat bread, processed to fine crumbs
1 apple, peeled and finely chopped
1 T raisins, chopped
1 t smoked paprika
1/2 t mustard powder
large pinch nutmeg
1/2 cup toasted or roasted pecans, roughly chopped
zest of one small clementine
1/2 cup grated smoked gouda
1/2 cup grated sharp cheddar
salt and lots and lots of freshly ground pepper (till your arm gets tired!!)
Preheat the oven to 400. Lightly coat the parsnips with olive oil, and spread them in a single layer on a small baking sheet. Roast for 20 – 25 minutes, till they’re nicely browned and crispy on the outside, and soft inside. Set them aside.
Put the beans in a large bowl and smush them with a potato masher. You don’t want them to be completely mushy, but fairly well-smashed. Add the bread crumbs and the egg.
In a large frying pan over medium heat, warm the olive oil. Add the shallot, garlic, rosemary and sage. Stir and fry for about a minute, until everything starts to brown. Add the bean mixture, and let it sit and get a bit crusty, then scrape and stir, then let it sit and get a bit crusty on the bottom, then scrape the pan clean again. You can add another drop of olive oil as you go. Keep cooking, letting the bottom brown then scraping and stirring it in. After five or ten minutes, transfer it to a big bowl. Stir in everything else, and mix very well.
Butter the cups of a 12-seater muffin tin. Break off a piece of dough about the size of a golf ball. Roll it to 1/8th inch thick, and press it into a muffin tin cup. It should come up about 1/2 inch over the edge. Repeat with each muffin tin cup. Then heap a large spoonful of filling into each one, pressing it down, and letting it rise over the top a bit.
Break off a piece of dough about the size of a large grape. Roll it into a round just larger than the muffin tin. Press it on the top, rolling down the edges, and tucking it into the muffin tin to form a cohesive lid. With the tines of a fork seal all the way round and make the edges a bit more pretty, then prick each pie in the center.
Bake at 400 for about 25 – 30 minutes until the top is browned and crispy when you tap it. Let them cool slightly before you lift them out of the muffin tin to serve them.