Most Excellent Pot Pies
In honor of the first day of Spring, I’m posting a recipe for a classic fall dish. Figures…
This was meant to be a collaborative post with Alimonkee, but sadly I wasn’t able to get the pictures put together in time. So I think we’re both going to be posting our own versions of the same cooking event. (And by “going to” I mean that Alice posted hers *months* ago, and I never finished my draft until now.) Also, due to some mishaps with lighting and trying to use a camera-phone, less of the documentation turned out well than I’d hoped, so the pictures are a little different.
The premise was great – we love pot pie, and we’ve never actually made our own, but Alice & Al are vegetarian, and Calin and I aren’t, so we figured we’d make two and compare! Alice made all veggies with soy chicken, and I made lots of veggies with real chicken, and instead of store-bought crusts we each used our favorite go-to pie crust recipe. Alice used her Betty Crocker pie crust recipe (check out her full post with details here), and I used my Nina-select Cheater’s Pie Crust, so it was a mini crust competition, too!
Alice’s pie crust was much thinner and flakier, probably the way traditional pot pie crust should be, but it definitely required more work and was stickier, and because it was shortening-based it had to be refrigerated before it could be baked. Mine was super easy and super fast, didn’t need chilling, but the flavor wasn’t quite as light. Since I’m generally lazy, though, the trade-off is worth it for the decreased effort.
We both used chopped potatoes, fresh carrots, and frozen peas. Not much difference at this stage, or really at all until the meat and “meat” entered the picture.
At this point I started making changes. Both recipes called for a seemingly astronomical amount of liquid – broth and milk or half and half – so we started off using quite a bit less of both. Ultimately, we ended up adding a bit more broth, but I think we underestimated how much the sauce would thicken. I still think 1 1/2 cups of half and half is excessive, but maybe we should have used the whole amount of broth after all…
Alice’s fake chicken version was ready faster than my real chicken version; I can’t remember why, but it might have had something to do with getting distracted. Who knows.
While all this was going on, the pie crusts in their pans were happily prebaking away in the oven. This was the first time I’d ever made a two-crust pie (sweet or otherwise) so rolling out this pie crust was new for me, but since you have to for the top one, I figured I’d roll out both. It was amazingly easy with some wax paper!
Once the pie filling was done cooking and thickening and the pie crusts were prebaked, we put them together,
sewed pinched on the top crusts, cut our cute little patterns, and stuck them back in the oven! Mine (chickened up) is the round one; Alice’s veggie version is the square one.
I honestly can’t remember why there is milk coming out of the slits in Alice’s pot pie. I’m sure there was a good reason – maybe we hadn’t added enough broth and it needed thinning? No idea.
When all was said and done, my pie came out looking “prettier” in the “more or less stayed intact” sense, but both pies were delicious. As I mentioned before, I think I actually liked the flavor and texture of Alice’s crust better with the rich pot pie filling – my crust is a bit heavier on its own, so her lighter crust supplemented without overwhelming – but it turned out just fine.
I do think the filling could probably have used as much liquid as they said it could… Too late.
The crust debate was the final straw in a seedling idea for a crust bake-off, so keep an eye out for that post coming up sometime this fall baking season! Or next fall baking season. Or next-next. Because, you know, it’s March now…
Melded and adapted from a combination of two recipes:
The Final Product:
- 1/2 teaspoon ground thyme
- 1 cup potatoes, diced
- 1/2 cup chopped onions (we used scallions)
- 1 cup celery, diced
- 1 cup chopped carrots
- one bag frozen peas
- 1/3 cup melted margarine or 1/3 cup butter
- 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
- 1 1/4 cups vegetable broth OR chicken broth
- 3/4 cups half-and-half
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon pepper
- 2 cups chopped vegetarian chicken strips or 2 cups firm tofu, cut in tiny cubes OR shredded cooked chicken (we used rotisserie chicken from the grocery store
- 2 pie crusts (either store bought or your own recipe, see a few options above)
- Preheat oven to 400°F.
- Saute onion, celery, carrots and potatoes in butter for 10 minutes.
- Add flour to sauteed mixture, stirring well.
- Cook one minute stirring constantly.
- Combine broth and half and half.
- Gradually stir into vegetable mixture.
- Cook over medium heat stirring constantly until thickened and bubbly.
- Stir in salt and pepper and thyme; add tofu or meat and stir well.
- Pour into shallow 2 quart casserole dish and top with pie shells.
- Cut slits to allow steam to escape.
- Bake for 40-50 minutes or until pastry is golden brown and filling is bubbly and cooked through.