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What else would you make if you had leftover taco filling and mac and cheese?

BLOG POSTINGS > Everyday Meals


by zirbirt

There is a term my family dreads more than any other... and that same term brings me untold excitement. That term is "Leftover night". Yes, this is the time when I get to let my mad scientist out and experiment with those wonderfully eclectic ingredients that are leftovers.

As is the case any time you prepare to go all Mad Scientist, remember to have your emergency supplies at the ready...

A fully charged fire extinguisher Frozen Pizza (in case of inedible failure)

Ok, so now that we are ready, lets look at our leftovers... Taco filling and Mac and Cheese (with bacon).. Ok, we have a lot of choices here, we could just have tacos with mac and cheese on the side. We could make a casserole... Wow, all of that sounds a bit boring and not in the spirit of leftover night... hmmm...

I know.. PIE! No, I don't mean shape biscuit dough like a pie, that would be casserole in pie form. I mean make it a full on pie with a savory pie crust. Why not? Lets do it...

To begin we will need to make our pie crust:

Pie Crust:
1 stick butter (cold)
1 1/2 Cups Flour
1/2 t salt
1/2 t onion powder
1/2 t garlic powder
4-5 T water

*note - if you want to make a sweet pie crust for, I dunno.. a pie maybe, just take out the onion and garlic powder and add 1 Tbsp of sugar.. oh and cut the salt in half.

Ok, there are all these rules for making pie crust, many of which I am just going to ignore. I'm supposed to mix the butter and the flour with a pastry cutter. I think I will just throw everything except the water and 2 Tablespoons of the flour into a food processor, and pulse a couple times till it looks like this:

From here, I just add the water 1 tablespoon at a time. I am supposed to use ice water, but Im using cold tap water. After I add each tablespoon of water, I pulse it 3 times. Once it does the following, which it just kinda goes from crumbles to this instantly, you are done adding water:

Next up, I am supposed to chill the dough. Instead, lets skip that and form this dough into a ball and get started. I split my dough ball in half and make 2 dough balls of roughly equal size. Remember those 2 tablespoons of flour I reserved? I will use that to to coat the dough balls.

Now I lay down a pretty good sized piece of seran wrap and lay one of the dough balls on it. I then flatten it down a bit to make it kinda like a pancake:

I then lay another piece of seran wrap over the dough, and flatten it out with a rolling pin. I want it to be larger than the 9" pie pan I am using.

Now I remove the top layer of seran wrap, carefully. Then, I put it unwrapped side down into a pie pan that I sprayed with cooking spray or olive oil.

Then I simply peel off the seran wrap, and I have a crust in a pie pan. (note I could be cleaner and I cut off all my overlap, because I don't want an edge crust on this one, if you want the fancy edge, just leave the overlap in tact.)

The seran wrap trick is my favorite pie trick ever. It makes it so easy to move the dough around and work with it, and sticking is almost a non-issue.

You will notice that my crust is very thin. This is how you want it to be. When the butter in that dough starts to heat it will bubble up and puff the dough. Basically those bubbles make air pockets that the flour will cook around and make it more thick and flaky. If it the dough is too thick to start with the butter will have no where to go and you will end up with a greasy dense dough that is no fun to eat. Thin is best, it will actually end up thicker after it is cooked, watch.

Ok so now I wanna put some meat in there, Then some cheese. Then the mac & cheese. Then more cheese. I sprinkled a little kosher salt over each layer of cheese, but don't be too generous with this, or you will have a salt pie, which is not yummy.

So now I do that same seran wrap rolling method to the second ball of dough to make the top. Once I have it nicely rolled out, I place it over the top of the pie. I pinch it down again, I am not looking for fancy with this one, so I cut the excess off the edges.

Next up, I take 1 egg yolk and 2 Tbs water to make an egg wash and brush it over the top of the pie.

I cut some air vents in by just poking a few holes in the top of the pie with a knife.

And finally sprinkle on some sea salt or kosher salt and maybe a little dried parsley.

I ended up with this:

Notice how my egg wash pooled up a little, that is actually fine. Also it looks a bit ugly right now. This too is normal.

I toss this into a 400 degree oven for about 30-45 mins, until it turns a nice golden brown.

Patiently I waited (well ok not patiently, I kept checking on it every 5 minutes) till finally this was ready to emerge from my oven.

The thing is, I broke all those crust rules. I know those rules are there for a reason, but really they just make the whole process much harder and more time consuming. It took me about 15 minutes start to finish to assemble this pie. I am sure if I followed the rules the crust would be slightly better, but honestly the resulting crust was buttery, flavorful and flaky. I don't know if it could be better.

So, lets see how badly breaking all those pie crust rules hurt me.. The first thing about a pie crust is, it should cut cleanly and not fall apart when you run the knife through it:

That is about as clean a cut as I can imagine, so I will say its ok. I used a very sharp knife and the crumbs flaked off exactly as I would expect them to.

Next up, we should be able to put it on plate without it all turning into a pile of filling and crust pieces:

Notice how thick that crust looks and how it has those nice big air pockets in it. That was from that super thin dough, amazing stuff really. That butter just spread that dough out and make it a wonderful delicate flaky shell, that still was strong enough to support the structure and weight of the pie.

Ok, that looks pretty decent, but I bet the bottom fell off or stuck to the pan or cracked or something.

No that looks pretty in tact. You notice how the base comes to the same point as the top, meaning nothing broke off. I was actually able to man handle this a bit and it didn't even think about falling apart.

Well, is it flakey? That is the real question...

and the real answer is yes, it is tender and flakey and savory and delicious and really complimented the insides perfectly.

So, yes I broke all the rules of crust making, and still ended up with an amazing pie crust. So, really all I did was save myself some time and a ton of effort. It took me about 15minutes in total to make the crust and assemble the pie and the end result was really good. It was actually better than I expected. That buttery crust along with the cheesy mac and cheese then the mild spices in the relatively thin layer of meat was an awesome experience.

Definitely would do this again...

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