Back in the 40's when the old Howard Johnson's chain added pot pie to their standard menu, you know that it had become an American icon. This classic example of comfort food is both simple and satisfying. And as Chef Jerry Pellegrino of Schola Cooking School can testify, as simple as pot may be, there are lots of little twists and turns you can explore as you make it.
First of all, the pot pie is a great way to use up left-overs. And while chicken is most often used, any protein is fair game. We've even seen fish pot pies, oyster pot pies, and the incredibly decadent lobster pot pie. Whatever the main ingredient, it is always cooked first, and never added to the pie raw.
As for the rest of the filling, standard veggies include carrot, celery, onion and potato. But there's no reason left over green beans, Brussels sprout, sweet potato or parsnips can't show up for the party.
The sauce is simply a thickened broth, made tastier by cooking the veggies in it, then thickening with either a floury roux or corn starch, plus seasonings.
The crust is the classic "pate brisée" a simple concoction of flour, salt, butter and water. It's great attribute is that it stands up to liquids (your sauce) very well.
Jerry offered a good recipe for pate brisée and a very creative idea for a holiday oriented pot pie.
Paté Brisée (Short Crust)
A basic crust recipe for almost any savory and some sweet fruit tarts.
1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
8 Tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into small pieces and chilled
½ teaspoon salt
4 Tablespoons ice water
Combine flour, butter and salt in a food processor. Process using the pulse button for four or five short pulses.
Turn the processor on and pour the ice water into the dough just until it begins to form. Stop processing immediately.
Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and work it together into a ball with your hands.
Place the dough onto a piece of plastic wrap and from it into a flat disc.
Cover the dough completely and chill in the refrigerator for at least one hour, or up to two or three days.
Turkey & Cranberry Pot Pie with Sweet Potato Crust
4 cups Turkey meat, cooked and cubed
assorted cooked vegetables
½ cup dried cranberries rehydrated in chicken stock
8 Tablespoons butter
½ cup all-purpose flour
3 cups chicken stock
1 cup heavy cream
salt, pepper to taste
1 batch sweet potato pastry
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Place turkey and vegetables in a 4 quart baking dish.
In a sauté pan set over medium heat, melt the butter and stir in the flour. Cook for 3 minutes. Whisk in the
chicken stock and the cream. Season with salt and pepper.
Pour over the turkey and vegetables. Roll out the pastry and fit it onto the top of the baking dish. Crimp the
edges and poke three steam vents in the top of the pastry.
Bake until golden brown.
Sweet Potato Pastry-this pastry is the traditional Maryland covering for an Eastern Shore chicken potpie.
1 ½ cups mashed sweet potato
1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons baking powder
½ cup shortening
2 eggs, beaten
Sift together the flour, salt and baking powder in a large bowl.
Add the mashed sweet pots, shortening and eggs.
Using your fingers, work the ingredients together into a dough.
Turn the dough out onto a lightly flour surface and form into a flat disk.
Roll the dough out to the necessary size.