Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Sardine Upside-Down Skillet Pie

I had opened a can of sardines one day and made a salad that I had heard was healthy and indistinguishable from tuna salad. Sardines contain lots of good omega fats and minerals, and are virtually free of mercury - plus they are really cheap - so they are a great food choice. This was a can of particularly cheap sardines, however, (Chicken of the Sea - I'd say the worst in sardines) and I was not impressed. In fact, I was having second thoughts about my resolution to never feed the feral cats in the backyard. I added more dressing, more seasoning...peas, lemon juice...they still tasted awful. Then I remembered the canned salmon 'pie' (finely chopped cooked meat under a biscuit dough crust) that my mother used to make often, and decided to try making a small one on the stove. I mixed up some bean flour dough, heated and buttered my little skillet, spread in the sardines, covered them with the dough and put on the lid. When I uncovered my experiment and tried a slice, it was delicious! Of course, I've been known to have strange taste in food, so I couldn't be sure it was good until I tried making it for dinner - my husband liked it too and asked for seconds. So it was a success.

Here's what I think the recipe is - it's been a little different every time.

Add to large skillet (use one that has a lid or can be covered)
1 tablespoon butter - spread evenly to grease

Mix in medium bowl before adding to buttered skillet
2 cans of sardines - if in olive oil, use the oil; if in water, drain water off 
1 or 2 tablespoons olive oil (depending on if your sardines have oil)
2 tablespoons lemon juice or vinegar (or one Tbsp of each)
1/4 tsp. ground black pepper
1/2 tsp. onion powder or 1 tsp. dried mince onion
1/2 tsp. Tabasco sauce (or just shake some in)
1 tsp. dried parsley or handful of chopped fresh parsley
1/4 cup frozen peas or finely chopped celery (totally optional - add jalapenos if you're in the mood!)

1 cup gluten-free flour (or adjust to less if using some coconut flour)
 -- I use 1/2 cup bean flour (garbanzo, pea, etc.), 1-2 T coconut flour, 1/4 cup arrowroot or tapioca starch and a tsp of guar or xantham gum, but any half/half combination of some bean/grain and some starchy flour, or pre-mixed gf blend should work, or just white flour if you eat gluten
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt

<<Now is a good time to turn on your skillet with the sardine mixture in it - med-low heat..

Blend into dry ingredients until crumbs are fine: 1/4 c. butter or coconut oil

Beat together before adding slowly to dry ingredients:
1 egg
1 tsp. apple cider vinegar
1/2 cup milk, water, or coconut or rice milk

Stir together until  blended, adding a little more water or milk if needed (depends on your flour type) to make a soft dough like thick cake batter. Drop spoonfuls evenly over sardine mixture in pan; try to cover the mixture completely. Cover. Raise heat to medium for 5-10 minutes (know your stove) to get the pie cooking and then turn heat down to low, leaving covered for about 15 minutes. Check to see if dough is done and cover and cook longer if not. Allow to cool at least 10 minutes before serving. It's good warm, but also at room temperature or even cold!

This recipe could also be baked in a 350 degree oven for 30 minutes or so if you're making an oven meal or don't have a covered skillet. I just like to use the stovetop in the summertime because it saves on energy and keeps the kitchen a little cooler.

Makes four servings.
Serving ideas - good with sides like green salad, herbed peas, gingery carrots, or citrusy broccoli.

P.S. If you're not into ultra-cheap and like sardines, these are some of the best - from iHerb.com. Kinda smokey-tasting and very dense and meaty. Yum!

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