Monday, October 25, 2010

Mrs. Lovett's Meat Pies ("Try A Little Priest!")

For his Halloween costume this year, my husband wanted to be Sweeney Todd, after seeing the Johnny Depp movie. He wanted to do it last year, but we didn't have time to get it all together. So I figured Mrs. Lovett would be the perfect companion costume for me! We always go to our friends Bob & Jessica's Halloween party every year, and I decided that meat pies would be the perfect food to bring!
For anyone unfamiliar with the story, you can find a full synopsis here, but basically, Sweeney Todd was a barber who was wrongly sent to prison and when he comes back, he finds his wife dead and child raised by the judge who sent him away. He vows revenge, and starts his barber business back up under an assumed name (Sweeney Todd.) He is discovered by an old apprentice and blackmailed, so he kills his old apprentice. In deciding (with his landlady, who owns a meat pie shop and is in love with him) what to do with the corpse, they decide to kill two birds with one stone. Her meat pie business is failing due to the high price of meat, and he has a corpse to disappear. And plans for more corpses...

Best. Song. Ever.

I had planned to make pocket-style meat pies, since they're easier, but my husband found this recipe for muffin-tin meat pies, which looked adorable, so I decided we'd try it. We didn't end up using the same ingredients, but we borrowed the base ingredients, directions and crust techniques.
Since we were headed to Nana's house first, to hang out for a while and deposit the child, before heading to the party, we decided to cook the meat pies there.

1 lb ground turkey
1/2 onion, chopped/diced [we used yellow, I think]
1/4 c chicken gravy
3 tbsp vegetable oil [we used olive oil]
salt, pepper, seasoning to taste [we used salt, pepper, garlic salt and Johnny's Seasoning, roughly 1/2 tsp of each, maybe less]

3 refrigerated pie crusts [We got 3 pies per crust, and each package came with 2 crusts. So we used 2 packages to make 12 pies. We only had enough filling for 9 pies.]

My husband did most of the actual cooking, since his vest was bought used and had some buttons missing, so I was put in charge of repairs (thanks to Nana's loose button collection and needles and threads!)

He mostly-cooked the onions in a frying pan with olive oil first, then set them aside and mostly-cooked the turkey. Then he combined them, added seasoning and finished cooking while we taste-tested. At first he just had salt and pepper, and a little Johnny's, but it needed something more, so he added more Johnny's and the garlic salt. Mmmmm.
We scrounged around to find bowls to use to cut crusts. The 8"/9" recommended in the original recipe was waaaaaaaay too big. And my husband's first choice was too small. I think our bottom crusts ended up being 6" in diameter, and the tops closer to 4". The tops were rolled thicker, so I could pull them to reach as far as I wanted, and then I trimmed the edges with a knife to make them neat. All the scraps went back into the collective to be rolled and re-used for more crusts.

Preheat oven to 425 F.

Step-by-step for crusts:
Step 1: Cut out bottom crust.
 Step 2: Start putting bottom crust into muffin tin. I was terrible at this so I let my husband do it.
Step 3: Tell husband "I told you so" when the crust size he chose was too small. Watch him mash it in anyway. We had to cut a roughly 1/5th-size slice out of the circle to get the crust nice and flat.
Step 4: Smoosh the split back together. Ours held up pretty well after cooking. You can dab a bit of water on your finger and wet the edge that will be under the overlap, to help seal, if desired.
Step 5: [*cough* after finding a larger lid to use as a cutting guide *cough*] I trimmed several times, both before and after adding the top crust. Save scraps, and when you have enough, combine them, roll them out and cut more crusts.
Step 6: Add filling. I used several large spoonfuls in each one. Like the original recipe, I tried to mound it up a little, to make the tops moundier-looking.
Step 7: Wet finger and run a little water around the outside edge of bottom crust before adding top crust. Our tops were much thicker, and a little too small, so I stretched them to fit as I smooshed the crusts together.

Step 8: Trim edges. They may overlap a little, but I was mostly able to trim them so that they just touched the next pie. [Save scraps unless you have enough crusts.]

Step 9: Like the recipe, I used the flat edge of the knife blade to make score marks around the crusts, and made 5 neat little slits in the top, shaped like a star or flower, to vent. My husband did the first few with a fork and they looked terrible (until I trimmed them.) [The 2nd pie from the right in the front row, 2 and 3 pictures down (before and after cooking.) That's one of the forked ones.]
We only had enough turkey mixture for 9 pies, but my husband had planned to make a batch of ham and cheese, only the pie crusts didn't make as many as he'd thought. So we did cubed ham and shredded medium cheddar and swiss in the last 3. [I cut 6 vent slits in those, so we could tell them apart.]

Step 10: Bake at 425 F for 10 to 15 minutes, until crusts are looking toasty.

The top crust ended up being too thick and pretty much popped right off as one solid piece after the first bite. But man, oh, man were they tasty! I scooped a bunch of meat onto my crust discus and ate the last of it that way. Soooooo gooooooood.

In costume, with actual meat pie accessories! I didn't get to pose with all 12, since we arrived late, and most were gone before we could get organized enough to take a picture!
"Try the priest!"
[FYI: I can't be bothered to do any costuming from the neck up. In the past, I've been a bar wench (with glasses and a ponytail,) Greek goddess (with glasses and a ponytail,) and vampire Countess (with glasses and a crap wig that kept sliding backwards.) This year I just twisted my hair up in back and called it good. My husband, however, got a real shaving razor (he banged it around on the driveway trying to dull it) and leather holster/sheath that he made look old and worn using some shoe polish! He had bought some black and white hair gels, to try and look more like the Johnny Depp version, but was worried his beard wouldn't match and that he had forgotten to shave his face, and we were running late.]

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