Saturday, August 10, 2013

Mmm...Pot Pie!

I love pie.  Berry, coconut, pumpkin, chocolate or lemon: I love them all.  But while a sweet pie is a delicious dessert, one of my favorite dinners is a homemade pot pie.

Usually, I feel the need for a pot pie when I have leftovers in the fridge.  Maybe I roasted a chicken, or braised a rabbit, or made a roast of beef or bison.  When you are a household of one, making any of those things pretty much ensures that whatever you roasted up, you're going to be eating that for days.  Now, I like a cold meat sandwich as much as the next person.  And a home grown salad topped with the meat of the hour is a delicious lunch, to be sure.  But, it takes on a whole new life when the leftover roast is combined with whatever vegetables I have on hand, stewed into a lake of gravy goodness, and poured into a pie crust.

Oh my.  Hand me a fork and call me happy!

Pot pies are as easy as can be, and can even be cooled and frozen for later--if you absolutely can't face another meal of whatever roast you've got on hand.  (I've been there--can we say "turkey"?)  Here's my method, which is definitely up to whatever modifications you might care to make.

Start with a good double crust recipe!  I make my own pie crusts from my home-rendered lard, flour, a dash of salt, and a little cold water, all whizzed in the food processor until it comes together.  Everybody seems to have their own recipe for pie crust, so do whichever one you like.  You could even go all cheaty and buy those refrigerated rollup crusts that are ready in a jiffy.  I did that for years until I got confident in my own crust making abilities.  (It is all about the lard.  Trust me.)  Any crust you choose, it generally needs to be chilled for a little while before rolling it out, so I say, start with the crust and then prep the filling.

Now, about that filling:  As I mentioned previously, I use whatever vegetables and leftover roast that I have on hand.  My latest pot pie, pictured in this post, used up two smallish zucchini, several carrots, a handful of new potatoes, a handful of kale, and two onions pulled from the garden.  I had quite a lot of leftover rabbit from a previous dinner, so I picked the meat of the bones, and shredded it a bit.  All of the vegetables were chopped into small bite sized pieces.  I combined all of this into a pot, added a cup or so of water, some salt and pepper, a blob of dijon mustard, and a sprinkle of Italian Herb seasoning blend.  After bringing it to a boil, I lowered the heat and let it simmer for a couple of hours to stew together.

Roll out that dough.  By now, the dough has chilled nicely, so roll it out and place the bottom crust in your pie plate.  Sprinkle a little flour into the crust (I use a tablespoon or two), and ladle the stewed meat in.  I do this in layers, adding a couple pats of butter and a little more flour (and a grind or two of pepper) between layers of stew.  Top with a little flour, pepper, and butter, and then cover with the top crust.  Fold and crimp the edges to keep your gravy inside of the pie, and cut a couple slits in the top to let the steam escape.  Now comes the baking wait:  350 degrees for about 50 minutes, don't forget to cover the edge of the crust with foil or a pie crust guard to keep it from burning.

When the pie is done, let it cool for 15 to 20 minutes, to allow the gravy to thicken and cool a little bit.  It's hard to wait, but it pays off--and the deliciousness is even greater for having waited for gratification!

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