Meaty Pot Pie

Cold weather makes me think of making dishes like this. This recipe can be used with turkey, chicken, veal, pork, lamb or beef, with only minor modifications. If you’re using turkey, for example, make a turkey stock to make the gravy. Beef or veal stock will work for the other red meats. White wine for turkey or chicken; red for red meats. More green vegetables for poultry; more root vegetables for red meats. You can be very free in adapting this recipe to your tastes and the ingredients at hand.

Two parts of the recipe are essential. First, you need deep baking dishes or crocks, preferably ceramic, that will hold about a cup. And you need the brioche dough from the recipe at the end of this one. These pot pies don’t have a bottom crust, and I think you’ll agree that they’re better without them.

  • Vegetables:
  • 1 small sweet potato, peeled and cut into one-inch cubes
  • 1 medium onion, cut up into small chunks
  • 1 small white potato, peeled and cut into one-inch cubes
  • 2 small carrots, peeled and sliced into 1/2 inch coins
  • 4-6 Brussels sprouts, outer leaves removed and bottom stem trimmed (you can substitute small broccoli florets)
  • 1 rib celery, cut into chunks
  • 1 cup frozen large peas
  • 4 oz. small mushrooms, cut in half (or quarters)
  • Sauce:
  • 1 stick butter
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 1/2 cup red or white wine
  • 6 cups stock (to match the kind of meat being used)
  • 1 Tbs. Creole seasoning
  • 1 tsp. marjoram (for red meats)
  • 1/2 tsp. thyme (for poultry or pork)
  • 1 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
  • Tabasco to taste
  • Meats:
  • Twelve ounces to a pound of any of the following meats, already cooked (leftovers, in other words). You may even mix them if you like:
    Turkey or chicken, preferably dark meat
    Beef or veal round, sirloin, or flank
    Lamb leg or shank
    Pork loin
  • Brioche dough from recipe

1. Steam or lightly boil all the vegetables except the peas and mushrooms until they’re just tender. The root vegetables will take longer than the green vegetables, so start with them. When cooked, set aside.

2. Melt the butter in a medium saucepan and stir in the flour. make a light-brown roux, stirring constantly until the right color is reached. Lower the heat and add the wine. Stir and bring to a boil for about a minute. Add the stock, Creole seasoning, thyme or marjoram (or both), and Worcestershire. Whisk until smooth. Simmer to reduce by about one-fourth. Adjust seasonings with salt, pepper, and Tabasco.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees, and position a shelf in the center.

3. Cut the meat into pieces about the size of your fingertip. (But don’t cut your fingertip.) Toss it with the vegetables to combine. Fill the crocks with the mixture. Pour the sauce over it to fill the crocks about two-thirds of the way. As you pour in the sauce, wet down all the vegetable-meat mixture on top.

4. Roll the brioche dough out to about a quarter inch thick. Cut pieces a little bigger than the top of the crocks, and mold the dough over the crocks, pushing down a little to seal it. Cut three or four one-inch slits in the crust.

5. Bake the crocks in the 400-degree oven for 45 minutes to an hour, depending on the size of the crocks. Check after a half-hour or so; if the crusts are already well-browned, cover them with a loose sheet of aluminum foil.

Serves two to four.

Brioche For Savory Pastries

Brioche is a classical French bread made with more eggs and butter than a standard bread. It’s good on its own, but I like it as a crust and cover for things like pot pies and dishes en croute.

  • 1 tsp. sugar
  • 1 package dry yeast
  • 2 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 tsp. white pepper
  • 5 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 sticks butter, softened
  • 6 large eggs, beaten just until blended

1. Warm 3/4 cup of water to just barely warm to the touch in a microwave oven. Dissolve the sugar in it, then stir in the yeast.

2. In the bowl of an stand mixer, put the salt, pepper, and three cups of the flour. Mix until blended.

3. When the yeast foams up, pour the water into the mixer bowl and run with the paddle attachment until well blended. Add the butter and continue mixing until blended. Add the eggs, one at a time, and keep beating until blended. Add the remaining flour and beat for another four or five minutes. The dough should be smooth but not sticky. If it’s lumpy, add a little more water until it smoothes out. If sticky, add a little more flour until it isn’t.

4. Grease a large bowl. Make the dough into a ball and put it into the bowl. Cover the bowl with a damp dishcloth, and put it in a warm place (above the refrigerator is often good). When it doubles in size (that will take around 90 minutes), take the dough out, punch it down, and put it back into the bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate, overnight or at least eight hours.

The dough is now ready to use for pies or en croute wrappings.

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