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I've been cooking a Dutch pie lately, and the results are not very regular. Using the exact same ingredients (I'm trying to get the best minced meat, but that's hard), sometimes the minced meat becomes nice and juicy and sometimes it gets dry and chewy.

I've tried putting everything raw into the oven, but the result is a bit too compact for my taste.

I try to sauté the meat for a short period of time and add some brandy to flambé. The meat should get a little crust, but not be done entirely as it'll go into the oven.

With this description, do you think there's anything wrong with the technique? Should I use higher heat but leave the meat less time? Should I skip the flambé? Should I leave the meat on longer (like a bolognese)?

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What is a"Dutch pie" to you? A classic meat pie should be made from a very coarse mince or better still, roughly cubed meat. You need a decent gravy to hold it all together, with enough starch in it to not run even when hot –  TFD Sep 7 '11 at 13:31
    
@TFD, how is your Dutch? –  BaffledCook Sep 7 '11 at 13:48
    
so my understanding is that it's basically a shepard's pie with sauerkraut? And is the texture you are trying to achieve a loose pack hamburger or what? and i would definitely cut out the flambe. –  sarge_smith Sep 7 '11 at 19:18
    
@sarge_smith, I guess that's it, I've never tasted a shepherd's pie though. I'll skip the flambé. –  BaffledCook Sep 7 '11 at 23:04
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2 Answers

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I think if you're going try to brown mince as mince, it's going to get dry and tough, especially if lean. You could try making it into a patty, browning the outside to get the flavour reactions started, then breaking up with wooden spoon (see Nicholas Klee, 'Don't Sweat the Aubergine' 2005). If you're also cooking onions and other veg like you would for a shepherd's pie, you could cook these separately until browned. Shepherd's pie is often made with left over (and browned) meat from a joint.The key to a good shepherd's pie is slow cooking for at least an hour.

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I'll give that a try next time. –  BaffledCook Sep 8 '11 at 23:18
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Well if its something like shepherds pie with saurkraut...I would brown the meat in a pan with some diced onions and garlic, salt/pepper. Drain most of the fat but keep a little for flavor. then in a baking dish layer the saurkraut (mixed with sour cream according to that recipe) on the bottom, then the beef, then top with mashed potatoes. You can dust some paprika on top of that for some color.

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Thanks for the answer. I'm asking 'how' I should brown the meat and still have it remain moist when the baking is done. So, if you could expand a little on your answer, that would be great. –  BaffledCook Sep 8 '11 at 22:46
    
Spray a nonstick pan with cooking spray, add finely chopped onions and garlic and saute til the onions are translucent. throw in the chop meat. Try stirring frequently so that one part doesn't get too dried out. Now the next part depends on how much of the excess fat you want to keep in the dish. If you keep most of it, then I would suggest cooking until you see no more pink. If you're gonna spill out all the fat, cook it until most of the pink is gone. Since you're gonna bake it you need to either not cook it all the way or keep more of the fat in the meat. How long does it have to bake? –  riotburn Sep 9 '11 at 4:08
    
I'm putting it in a hot oven for about 10'. Just to brown the top, but the meat gets done as well. –  BaffledCook Sep 9 '11 at 10:46
    
Oh 10 minutes really shouldn't dry it out all too much. Just try keeping some more of that fat/keeping a lil pink –  riotburn Sep 9 '11 at 16:02
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