Say “pot pie” and the two words conjure up feelings of hot and hearty stick-to-your-ribs goodness, velvety gravy and the tantalizing aroma of meat and vegetables nestled inside tender buttery pastry.
So, if your only pot pie experience has been the half-frozen-in-the-middle kind with the gummy crust, MSG-laden gravy, mystery meat and questionable vegetables served in a foil tin, you’ve been done a terrible injustice. You’ve missed out on the richness of simple “peasant food” ─ a delicious dish made from a short list of ingredients that happen to be on hand in the kitchen, pantry, cellar or larder. Pot pies, like soups, have always been an ideal way to eliminate food waste and make use of odds and ends.
There’s nothing wrong, of course, with a highfalutin’ fancy pie filled with gourmet ingredients. They’re certainly delicious, but they also kind of spoil the spirit of a traditional rustic dish served the way our ancestors intended.
Multi-Cultural Comfort Food
A long list of ethnic cultures boast their own unique version of the pot pie recipe ─ African empanadas with ground beef and spicy vegetables, English steak and kidney pie, Irish hand pies with sirloin, cabbage and potatoes, Australian meat pies with minced beef, tomato sauce and a dash of vegemite, German Fleischkuechle ─ deep-fried dumplings stuffed with seasoned ground beef – or the Michigan pasty, seasoned only with salt and pepper, and served with either gravy or ketchup, depending upon which side of the debate you happen to be on.
Everything You Need for Your Comfort Food Recipes
A Chef’s Garden “best of the season” box contains the contents for pot pie Nirvana. Everything that goes into this box represents what is coming out of the earth at any given moment in time. It could be sweet potatoes and fall squash, colorful root vegetables, hearty greens and more.
“Nothing is off limits in a pot pie,” says Culinary Vegetable Institute Chef Jamie Simpson. “From cabbages to Romaine, pumpkins to summer squash and even squash blossoms, tomatoes, carrots, potatoes and peas. This is a great way to utilize vegetables in the peak of their season in a dish any family can get behind.”
No Limits to Homemade Pot Pie Potential
You can consult a recipe if you want to, and we’ve provided one here, compliments of Chef Jamie. But making a pot pie is more of a method than a set of rigid instructions. All it takes is some basic kitchen skills, a few fresh and simple ingredients and your imagination.
Chef Jamie is an ardent supporter of eradicating food waste in the CVI kitchen, reflecting the true spirit of pot pie history and the noble respect for always making the most of what you have.
Vegetable Pot Pie Recipe
⅓ cup butter
⅓ cup onion diced
2 ½ cups of small diced vegetables
⅓ cup all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon black pepper
1 ¾ cup chicken stock
⅔ cup milk
1 sheet of puff pastry cut to fit the top of the baking vessel
1 whole egg
Preheat oven to 375˚
In a medium-sized sauce pot, sauté all vegetables with the butter, taking care not to brown them. Add the flour, salt, and black pepper to the pot. Stir to evenly distribute the flour throughout the vegetables. Remove the pot from the heat and add the chicken stock and milk. Bring the ingredients up to a boil, stirring frequently. Don’t let the bottom of the pan scorch or stick.
Transfer the filling to an oven-safe container (this can be coffee cups, ramekins, soufflé cups, cereal bowls, whatever you have). Drape the pastry over the filling and edges of the cup, trimming as needed. Brush the top of the dough with a single egg whisked with a touch of water. This will produce a dark, rich, glossy finished crust. Top the crust with a touch of salt.
Bake at 375˚ for about 30 minutes until pastry is cooked and filling is hot. Allow to cool for a few minutes at room temperature before serving.