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Cumin pie

(Gretchen Ertl for The Boston Globe)
February 17, 2010

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Serves 6

Rebecca Forrester has been making this savory dinner pie just as her mother did when Rebecca was a child in England. She uses canned corn and serves this with other vegetables on the side. If you prefer frozen kernels, defrost them first and make sure they don’t have excess moisture. The white sauce topping allows a sprinkling of cumin to enhance, rather than overwhelm, the rest of the ingredients.

MEAT

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
1 1/2 pounds lean ground beef
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
1 cup low-sodium beef stock, heated until hot
4 cups sweet corn kernels
1 tablespoon cumin, or to taste
Salt and pepper, to taste
1. Have on hand a 2 1/2-quart baking dish.

2. In a large skillet over medium heat, heat the olive oil. Add the onion and cook, stirring often, for 5 minutes or until softened. Add the ground beef and cook, stirring constantly, until the mixture browns. Stir in the mustard and Worcestershire sauce.

3. Add the hot stock and bring to a boil. Lower the heat, cover the pan, and simmer for 45 minutes. Check the meat after 30 minutes. If there is too much liquid in the pan, remove the cover for the final 15 minutes of cooking time. The meat should be moist with some excess liquid when done, but not swimming in broth.

4. Spread the meat mixture in the dish. Top with a 1/2-inch layer of corn. Sprinkle the cumin evenly over the corn. There should be enough cumin to cover evenly but not too thickly. Set aside.

TOPPING

1/4 cup (4 tablespoons) unsalted butter
4 tablespoons flour
1 1/2 cups milk (2 percent or whole), warmed
Salt and pepper, to taste
1/2 cup fresh bread crumbs
1. Set the oven at 300 degrees.

2. In a heavy-bottomed saucepan, melt the butter over low heat. As the foam subsides, whisk in the flour, whisking constantly to prevent lumps from forming. Simmer for 2 minutes.

3. Remove the sauce from the heat and whisk in the warm milk. Return the saucepan to low heat. Cook, stirring constantly, for 5 minutes or until the sauce thickens. Season with salt and pepper.

4. Spread the sauce evenly over the corn and meat mixture. Sprinkle with bread crumbs. Bake for 45 minutes or until the crumbs brown and the sauce is bubbling at the edges. Adapted from Rebecca Forrester