|via Food 52 ph: james ransom|
When we were kids my dad liked to stock the freezer with Banquet Pot Pies. They never seemed to cook quite fast enough in the oven but when the timer went off we all raced back to the kitchen for our individual turkey or chicken pot pies. Fresh out of the oven the pies were piping hot, too hot. I always burned my tongue on the first couple of bites, too impatient to let it cool off properly. My favorite part was cracking the crust open with a spoon to get to the rich creamy filling inside, the steam billowing out of the flaky hole. My second favorite thing was the way the creamy sauce would leave a delicious residue on the spoon you could lick off. Next, I enjoyed finding the little pieces of cubed meat, the trick was to get one in every spoonful. Pot pies are a major food nostalgia for me. They remind me of being a kid, dad fixing supper in his army uniform, and that odd time period when it was pretty much normal for families to eat frozen dinners, usually in front of the television. Every now and then I'll buy a Banquet Chicken Pot Pie from the frozen section of my grocery store. They still cost less than a buck. Now that's what I call a bargain.
Banquet Pot Pies will do in a pinch but scratch-made pot pies are even better. Food 52 has provided a simple formula for pot pie: Chicken (or turkey) + vegetables + thick sauce + crust = pot pie.
1. The Meat: Cook's choice. Leftovers are always great for throwing together a pot pie. You can use poultry, beef, or just roasted vegetables. If your meat needs to be cooked (not leftovers) then you can braise the meat in the sauce. The meat flavors the sauce, and the sauce gently cooks the meat.
2. The Vegetables: The classic veggies include potatoes, carrots, celery, onion, and frozen peas but there's no need to restrict yourself. Get creative, just make sure their chopped into bite-sized cubes. You can either roast the veggies separately or cook them in the sauce.
3. The Sauce: Sauce is the glue that hold pot pie together. To guarantee a thick sauce, you'll need to make a roux (paste made from flour cooked in fat to be used as a thickener). When it's ready you slowly whisk in chicken stock and bit of milk. Let it come to a boil and simmer briefly. Once you have a thick sauce, add your meat and veggies.
4. The Crust: You can cheat and buy puff pastry dough but if you've got time make your own then here's a pot pie dough recipe.
5. Now, put it all together: You'll need an ovenproof vessel whether it's ramekins or small cast iron pots or skillets for individual pot pies or cast iron skillet, baking dish, or even pie plate for a large, family-style pot pie. Add in a mix of your cooked veggies and meat into the container, cover with the sauce leaving a 1/2-inch between the sauce and top of container. Lay the crust over the container, crimp, and brush with egg wash. Be sure to create slits for steam vents. Bake at 375º F until the crust has browned and the stew is bubbling underneath, about half an hour. Everything under the crust should already be cooked, so baking is just for the lid.
For more detailed instructions go here.