French Food on a budget: Chaussons à la viande

One look at the pic illustrating this French recipe and I was sold. Let’s face it: a chausson à la viande looks very much like a Cornish Pasty! And who can resist a Cornish Pasty (or Empanadas) – though its French name translates into meat-stuffed slipper?

Scroll down to have a quick look at the ingredients and you’ll notice a few differences. The Cornish one usually contains no herbes de Provence. For the French take, the recipe listed ready-made pizza dough, Tabasco, grated cheese, and a lot more you may not find in a Cornish version.

As usual, my recipe and the French magazine’s one also differ slightly. The French mag mentioned this recipe was more complicated and cost more than say Tartiflette or Tarte au Maroilles. Be clever: cut costs and use leftovers.

My left-overs included 6 small squares of ready-made puff pastry. (A package of 10 costs about 1 Euro at the supermarket here.) The fridge contained four left-over Roma tomatoes, from a kilo of ripe ones bought at the local market for 1 Euro. There were leftover ready-cut soup vegetables and green peas in the freezer. (Package of soup vegetables of 1 Euro and frozen green peas costing between 0.60 and 1 Euro). The freezer also contained half a package of 500 gr of minced meat, which had cost between 2 and 3 Euro.

Moreover, I would end up with more sauce than needed to fill six chaussons for 2 people. So what would be left of the sauce would end up as Bolognese sauce. The next day, I did indeed pour the left-over meat sauce into an oven dish. On top of it went a layer of cooked macaroni. On top of the macaroni went grated cheese, bread crumbs and dollops of butter. This dish was pushed into the oven till everything was heated through and the top layer had turned a nice, golden gratin.

You can do the same. In this case, make sure you scoop up the sauce to stuff your budget French slippers draining off most of the liquid. Otherwise the stuffing of your chaussons is far too wet. Also make sure that the dough is baked through and through.

The French magazine recipe:

This is supposed to be for 6 people. Count on 45 minutes for preparations and another 30 for the baking. Check what the pizza dough wrapping says about baking and oven temp and follow its instructions.

Ingredients
1 onion, finely chopped
20 gr margarine or butter
350 gr of minced meat, preferably cow
1 teaspoon of herbes de Provence
3 soup spoons tomato coulis
Some Tabasco
Ready pizza dough
50 gr grated cheese
1 beaten egg yolk (this may be replaced by water or you may add some water)
Salt and pepper

Glaze the chopped onion in the butter or margarine. When the onion turns golden brown, add the meat. Once the meat has turned brown, add the herbes de Provence,, salt (can be left out) and pepper. Add the tomato coulis and Tabasco. Cook for 2 minutes, then turn off the heat and let the meat mixture cool down.

Preheat your oven at 180C (therm. 6). Cut rounds out of your ready-made pizza dough. Your rounds should have a diameter of 10 cm. Add the grated cheese to the cold meat mixture and mix well. Place helpings of the meat-cheese mixture in the middle of your dough rounds.

Beat the egg yolk – perhaps adding a few drops of water. Make sure you have your baking tray lined with slightly greased baking paper.

Fold your rounds double. Use some water or your beaten egg yolk to ensure the rims of your chaussons stick together. You can either leave the rims like this, or turn them into the kind of rim you see on Cornish pasties. Place the chaussons on your baking tray.

Use a brush and what is left of the beaten egg yolk to glaze your chaussons. Place them in the preheated oven. Make sure you stick to the time and temp as stated on the package of the ready-made dough you use. The French mag recipe states pizza-dough and 20 minutes in a pre-heated oven of 180C. You may have to tinker with this, depending on your oven. Do ensure your chaussons are baked through and through. Serve them warm with a simple salad.

My version, for six small chaussons consisted of

– 1 chopped onion
– Some oil and butter for frying
– 2 garlic cloves, crushed
– 250 gr minced meat
– 4 ripe Roma tomatoes cut in cubes
– A large helping of herbes de Provence
– About 100 gr left over frozen green peas
– About 150 gr ready cut frozen soup vegetables
– Some red wine – ensure you do not end up with too liquid a sauce

– 6 square sheets of puff pastry
– Some grated cheese

The procedure was much the same. Add the wine after the frozen peas and soup vegetables, for these will release water. Do not add grated cheese to the sauce as stated in the French mag version. Leave the meat and vegetable mix to cool, after simmering for at least 5 minutes.

Scoop a good spoonful of the cooled down veg-meat mix on the thawed puff pastry sheets. Then add some grated cheese and fold each sheet, ensuring the chausson has a rim which sticks. You may use beaten egg yolk, or water. I added some grated cheese on top of each chausson. They were baked in a pre-heated oven at 220C for 20 to 30 minutes and served with a simple salad.

For a French instruction: Youtube Chausson

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