The Chief Milkmaid | Comfort food: The pot pie

Posted in Blogs, Culinary

February 18, 2015

The weather has been unseasonably beautiful, but nice weather in February does not equal barbeque weather in our house. This week, warm comfort food is still on the menu.

Pot pies are new to me this winter. You might remember my last blog was about the pie-making class I took.

Now that I know how to make a decent pie crust, it’s time to extend that knowledge.

As a big fan of one-pot meals, I thought I would enjoy making little personal meat pies—if only I had some little pots to make them in.

Fortunately on Whidbey Island we are surrounded by talented artists. A friend of mine, Brenda Lovie (did you read about her last week?), has been studying with the talent at Cook on Clay. When I told her about my dilemma, she took on the challenge of making pot pie pots for me.

You wouldn’t believe what she came up with. Inspiring pots really can make you a better cook. I promise!

Gorgeous pots, locally made by local talent.

Gorgeous pots, locally made by local talent

The week I brought these pots home and used them three times.  Most recently I actually made the intended pot pies.

A little crust made with our Little Brown Farm’s Ugly Butter as the base was a great place to start.

Ugly Butter steals the show in pie crust.

Ugly Butter steals the show in pie crust.

While the dough was resting I was able to make the filling.

The crust waiting to be filled.

The crust waiting to be filled

I made a simple filling with potatoes, parsnips, carrots, celery, onion and beef.

Veggies in beef broth simmer on schedule

Veggies in beef broth simmer on schedule

From start to finish it was about four hours, with a little over an hour of that as prep time.

Color added, ready to fill those pots.

Color added, ready to fill those pots

I could offer you the recipe, but what I would rather do is inspire you to buy some meat you haven’t cooked before. Try some veggies you don’t know how to prepare. Experiment with substituting quinoa or wild rice in a meal. Have fun in the kitchen. The internet is a great source for recipes or inspiration, but the community we live in is, too.

Wondering how to cook goat meat? Ask a goat farmer.

Not sure how to prepare those mushrooms? Ask the person who harvested them.

Wanting to break your routine of chicken AGAIN for dinner? Ask a chef.

We have resources all around us. Gratefully, most talented people feel most complete when sharing their knowledge.

You don’t need a bunch of expensive gadgets to have fun in the kitchen again, just some curiosity and a willingness to fail (those dough ribbons on the top of the pies below were going to be hills for the goats, but then the goats were way too big, so I improvised).

If you would like to get a little knowledge before you make the plunge, try some of the many classes offered locally. If you don’t see classes for what you want to learn, find someone who is successful making it and ask them if they’d consider teaching a class. If we’re lucky a whole new teaching venue will be coming online this summer. The Orchard Kitchen is currently raising funds to finish their teaching kitchen.

I am about as much of an expert in the kitchen as I am at blogging. I just keep trying; sometimes I hit success, sometimes I just keep trying. Hopefully my willingness to put things out there will inspire you to the same.

Cute little pies (yes those are goats!)

Cute little pies (yes, those are goats!)

I couldn’t leave you hanging—the pies were delicious but a little dry. Consider keeping more sauce/gravy/juice reserved for when you fill the pies.

Pot pie recipe (four large-portion pies):

1 lb beef stew meat (premium cuts are wasted for this, buy the cheapest local meat cut and prepare it in  small cubes)
1 tbs Worcestershire sauce
2 tsp balsamic vinegar
½ cup red wine
2 tsp salt
1 tsp black pepper
2 garlic cloves

Once the meat is cooked I pulled it out and set it to the side and added to the sauce:

3 cups water (more if your liquid boils off too quickly)
3 potatoes (cubed)
1 large parsnip (cubed)
2 carrots (chopped)
2 stalks of celery (chopped)
1 tbs salt
1 tsp black pepper

Once all the vegetables were cooked I added the meat back and filled the pot pies.

The pies required 25 minutes in the oven at 350F to brown and heat through.

For the crust recipe, I’m going to leave you on your own… maybe consider taking that pie class I talked about in my last blog!

For the pots, unless you know a friend, I recommend you check out the new shapes at Cook on Clay. I’m pretty sure they have something that will work beautifully.

(All photos by Vicky Brown)

Vicky Brown, Chief Milkmaid at the Little Brown Farm, puts her passions on the page writing about food, agriculture and the tender web of community.


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  1. You go girl with those cute pot pies!! The goat pastry topping was brilliant. I bet you could sell those puppies at the farmer’s market. They are so you.

    I also liked the way you advised the reader to get to know their “grower” of the product and get ideas on how to use it.

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