It looked so lovely when it came out of the oven after 45 minutes. The fragrant, golden crust gave flakily away when I dove in with a spoon. The scent of curry and cilantro wafted up at me through the break in the crust. It was in the midst of these visual and olfactory raptures that I discovered the potatoes were still crunchy. Damn. Back into the oven. After another half an hour, the crust was a little worse for the wear, yogurt/creme fraiche sauce was watery, and the lamb was overcooked. Edible, but no longer miraculous, my experiment with Turkish/Indian Lamb and Cilantro Pie was of limited success.
Still, three useful lessons were gleaned, and I share them with you here:
1) Unrolled Pillsbury crescent rolls make a brilliant substitute for shortcrust pastry dough in a pinch. I overlapped the triangles as if I were building a pizza, and then brushed them with egg. The guar gum and other mysterious ingredients that make Pillsbury products tasty and long-lived did their job.
2) If a recipe calls for a pie tin, use a damn pie tin. Do not, under any circumstances, double the recipe, put it in a large stoneware casserole, and then assume the cook time will remain the same.
3) Lamb gives off a lot of liquid/fat when cooked. Be aware.
The result was actually not bad tasting, but next time I'd increase the amount of cilantro (incredible, I know) and otherwise follow the directions in the original recipe more closely. The recipe below is my best guess at how to make my version of the pie more palatable and attractive.
Flawed Lamb and Cilantro Pie
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
Warm a large skillet over high heat. Heat:
1 tablespoon peanut oil
Cook for 2 minutes, until toasted:
2 Tablespoons garam masala
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1 inch fresh ginger, minced
4 cloves garlic, minced
Add, and sear for approximately 2 minutes on each side (in batches, if necessary):
2 cups lamb, cubed
Remove the lamb to a pie dish, and add:
2 cups fresh cilantro, finely chopped
2 cups potatoes (if you want the pie to cook more quickly, you might boil the potatoes for 10 minutes or so before you add them)
1/2 cup creme fraiche
1/2 cup yogurt
Turn gently to combine, then cover with:
8 oz. shortcrust pastry, or 1 can Pillsbury crescent rolls
Crimp the edges to seal the lamb mixture inside the pan.
Brush the crust with:
1 egg, beaten
Bake for 45 minutes (or more) until potatoes are soft. To prevent burning, tent the pan with foil until the last 10-15 minutes of baking.
Serve with a green salad, lightly dressed. May your luck be better than mine.