Austin’s Casserole Queens, aka Crystal Cook and Sandy Pollock, are back with their second cookbook, "The Casserole Queens Make-a-Meal Cookbook" (Clarkson Potter, $17.99).
The duo, which started a meal-delivery company in 2006 that has morphed into a multi-platform brand that now includes cookbooks, national media appearances and a web series, go beyond the traditional casserole to include recipes for side dishes, desserts, salads and even pies, like this Aussie meat pie filled with Shiner-braised chuck roast.
Like the Queens’ first book, this one is packed with personality, and they’ve added even more recipes and tips with gluten-free, vegetarian and diabetic cooks and eaters in mind. One of the chapters features recipes that have only seven or fewer ingredients, many of which already will be in your pantry.
To celebrate the launch of the book, Cook and Pollock will participate in two events Wednesday, one at 2 p.m. at Serve Gourmet, 241 W. Third St., and another at 7 p.m. at BookPeople, 603 N. Lamar Blvd.
Awesome Aussie Meat Pies
Wouldn’t you know it? The national dish of Australia is also a casserole! Rob Swander, a culinary grad and our dear friend’s brother, perfected this traditional dish while traveling in the wilds of the outback. Well, not quite, but he did travel all over Australia, sampling countless variations of this dish (along with all of the local brews). He spent some time in our kitchen, as an honorary Casserole King, and passed along this little taste of "down under."
To freeze this dish, prepare the meat pies through cooking the meat and filling the ramekins. Wrap in foil and freeze for up to 2 months. Thaw the pies overnight in the refrigerator. The next day, top them with the pastry and bake as stated in the recipe. Note that casseroles that have not been completely thawed may take an additional 15 to 30 minutes, so be sure to check for bubbling edges and a hot center.
— Crystal Cook and Sandy Pollock
3 Tbsp. all-purpose flour
1/2 Tbsp. ground cumin
1 tsp. coriander
1/2 Tbsp. salt
1 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
2 lb. beef chuck roast, cut into 1/4-inch cubes
1/2 Tbsp. unsalted butter
1 Tbsp. vegetable oil
1 onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/3 cup soy sauce
1/3 cup Worcestershire sauce
1/2 cup Shiner beer (we love a good Texas beer!), or any strong lager
2 cups beef broth, homemade or store bought (the Casserole Queens include a recipe in the book)
1 sheet frozen puff pastry, thawed
1 large egg
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Spray 6 (6-ounce) ramekins with cooking spray. In a large bowl, whisk together flour, cumin, coriander, salt and pepper. Add the beef and toss to coat well.
Heat a stockpot over medium heat. Add butter and oil. Shake any excess flour from the beef and add the meat to the pot. Cook, turning to brown all sides, for 8 to 10 minutes. Transfer beef to a paper towel–lined plate.
Add onion to the pot and cook, stirring, until it has caramelized, 10 minutes. Add garlic and cook for about 1 minute, then quickly add beef back to the pot, followed by soy sauce, Worcestershire sauce and beer. Cook for about 3 minutes and add beef broth. Reduce heat to medium, so that you have a low simmer, and cover the pot. Cook until sauce has become thick like gravy, about 45 minutes to 1 hour. Divide beef mixture among prepared ramekins.
Put puff pastry on a floured work surface. Using a rolling pin, roll it out enough to get six 4-inch circles to cover the top of the ramekins. Dust with flour if pastry is sticky. Lay puff pastry over the meat filling in ramekins. Press the pastry that hangs over the side onto the edges of the dish to seal, and cut a slit in each pie.
Bake for 45 minutes, or until the pies are golden and crispy looking on top. Serves 6.
— From "The Casserole Queens Make-a-Meal Cookbook" (Clarkson Potter, $17.99) by Crystal Cook and Sandy Pollock