Hooray! This pie was not only delicious BUT I have found the key to making ground beef taste just like the ground lamb in the pastitsio at Uncle George’s in Astoria! So the last issue of Saveur magazine was all about Greece. They included a recipe for pastitsio which is a sort of Greek lasagna. I had always wondered what the spice was that made the meat taste absolutely delicious, and lo and behold, cinnamon.
Beef and onions sauteed with coriander, cumin and cinnamon.
Spiced Greek Solar Pie
For the crust:
1 lb of cold butter, cut into small cubes
2 cups flour
1/2 cup of fresh basil, chiffonade
ice cold water
It’s super easy to combine these ingredients in a cuisinart but since we don’t have one at house I live in, this will be the low-tech way.
First you combine the butter and flour in a medium mixing bowl. Add a pinch of salt. Then take a pastry cutter or a fork and begin to mix the two together. Basically you should cut the butter into the flour so it resembles little bitty balls of butter surround by flour. At this point you can put the basil in.
Add ice cold water, one tablespoon at a time until stirring with a wooden spoon until the mixture is just coming together in one clump, you don’t want it to be too wet. I like to roll it out immediately and put it in a pie dish. Then I place it in the cold refrigerator while I am working on the filling.
For the Filling:
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 large onion, small dice
1 tsp coriander
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 lb ground beef
1 small bunch of rainbow chard, chiffonade
1/2 cup of crumbled feta cheese
3 medium – large tomatoes
1. Add the olive oil to a large skillet and when hot add the onions and spices. When the onion has become softened, add the beef and chiffonade chard to the pan.
2. When the chard has wilted, remove the pan from the heat.
3. Stir the feta into the mixture and pour the fillings into your crust.
4. Slice the tomatoes thin and place on top of the beef.
Now while this did cook in the solar oven (it took 2 1/2 hours), the crust on the bottom wasn’t as crispy as it would have been in a conventional oven. However, I didn’t mind and I didn’t have to turn the oven on in the midst of a 90 degree afternoon.
If you WANT to turn the oven on, go for it. It’ll cook in about 40 – 50 minutes at 350 degrees.