Musical pairing – The Quidditch Match by John Williams
I am completely in love with the world of Harry Potter. I wear my Gryffindor scarf with pride. I pick up sticks when I’m on walks with my husband just to wave them in the air at him and say “Expelliarmus!” When we visited The Wizarding World of Harry Potter last October, I literally went running through the park like some sort of crazed madwoman just to get to the ride “Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey.” If there was an Olympic record for sprinting toward a theme park ride, I would be polishing the gold right now. And I may or may not have tripped a few kids along the way . . . do you think that would get me disqualified?
So when I went search for Harry Potter-based recipes, I was excited to find so many. But the one that seemed the most magical to me was the ‘Quidditch Player’s Pie’ – ground beef with cooked carrots simmered in an onion gravy and baked for 15 minutes in the oven at 350 degrees to set a mashed potato crust. Only recently have I learned about the world of European meat pies. We just moved to Florida and our first dinner out was at an Irish restaurant called “Cookes of Dublin” where I had a fish pie. It was delightful. I mean, why have your meat and vegatables on a plate like a sucker when you could be eating them in a pie? It’s genius.
Quidditch Pie is one of the many culinary delights that I imagine Molly Weasley bakes in her charming cottage kitchen amidst all of her knitted potholders and dark wooden furniture. She is Mother Earth incarnate and I picture all her boys tromping in from practicing Quidditch on a cool fall day. This is what she would serve them. When I imagined baking a Quidditch Pie, I thought I would be flitting around the kitchen just like her. But there’s one key difference between me and Molly Weasely.
She uses magic.
Anyone can be a great cook if they can wave a wand at their ingredients. For me, Quidditch Pie went a little bit less than smooth. The mashed potatoes for the crust went okay, but that’s probably because they were instant. Instant mashed potatoes . . . now that’s real magic. The carrots I microwaved. No problemo. But the blasted gravy…the gravy always gets me. My onion soup whisked with a bit of milk and a tablespoon of flour never thickened. But hey, that would be hiding under the mashed potato crust anyway, so nobody would be any the wiser about my runny “gravy”. When gravy goes wrong, I just call it ‘sauce.’ Problem solved. Or should I say, ‘Mischief Managed?’
First I spooned the ground beef/carrot/onion sauce mixture into a lasagna pan. The mixture spread a bit too thin, so I put it in a more shallow glass casserole dish. The mashed potato crust is what I was most excited about. Because I had a trick up my sleeve. I was going to use an icing bag and tip to make it look fabulous. I recalled that my fish pie from Cookes had that fancy swirly quality to it’s crust. I wanted to achieve a similar effect. But those pesky laws of physics got in my way.
The icing bags I was using were super thin. Whereas the mashed potatoes were piping hot. You can guess what happened. My hands are still a little tender. I let everything cool and tried it again. This time the mashed potatoes were too thick to push through the tiny tip probably meant to construct delicate little roses out of sugary icing. So I gave up and spooned out the mashed potatoes. The way I figured, fundamentally it should all taste the same anyway, even if the crust did look like some kind of kitchen accident.
I slid the Quidditch Pie into the oven, settled into a comfy chair to watch “The Prisoner of Azkaban” and waited for the results. Just in the nick of time, a thunderstorm broke loose. I love it when the world conspires to add a little atmosphere. When the oven timer sounded, I let the pie cool for a little while. Then I spooned out two heaping helpings for my husband and myself. And…
The Quidditch Pie was wonderful. It was savory and salty. An entire meal in one casserole dish. I could almost feel Molly Weasley patting me on the shoulder and giving me that warm motherly smile. “Well done!” she told me in my imagination, “And all without a stitch of magic. How impressive.”
I didn’t tell her about the instant mashed potatoes . . .
QUIDDITCH PLAYERS PIE
Smith Bites Spin on Standard Shepherd’s Pie
- 1 pound ground beef
- 2 medium jalapeno peppers, ribs & seeds removed
- 1 garlic clove, smashed, finely diced
- ½ cup diced onion
- ½ cup diced carrot
- ½ cup frozen peas
- 1 packet IKEA Swedish Meatball Gravy mix
- 2 cups real mashed potatoes to cover (good frozen or refrigerated mashed potatoes work here; and for the love of all that is good in this world, please don’t substitute instant!)
- ½ cup shredded extra-sharp cheddar cheese
- smoked paprika for garnish
- In small saucepan, make Ikea gravy according to package directions; set aside
- Brown the beef in a large cast iron skillet for about 5-7 minutes; when no longer pink, remove from heat, drain fat and set aside.
- On medium heat and using the same skillet, add jalapenos, garlic, onions and carrot; sauté about 5 minutes or until vegetables are softened.
- Stir in peas and warm thru – about 3 minutes
- Add cooked beef and gravy; stir to combine
- Place ground beef mixture into greased individual cast iron skillets or casserole dish; cover with a layer of potatoes, top with cheese and sprinkle with smoked paprika
- Bake in 350-degree oven for 15 minutes; move rack to broil position and broil for 2-3 minutes or until cheese gets golden brown
- Remove from oven and let rest for about 10 minutes before serving
Audrey Brown is a freelance journalist and voice over artist. She recently completed her M.A. in Creative Writing and was once mentioned in the Huffington Post by documentary director Mark Edlitz for her feminist thoughts on Princess Leia’s gold bikini. Audrey lives in Florida with her husband Jake and it is entirely possible that you will see the two of them running wild through Walt Disney World on any given day. If you wave at them, just remember that the Vulcan hand signal is just their way of waving back and not an obscene gesture. You can find Audrey at her blog Born For Geekdom.