Saturday, December 11, 2010

Easy As Pot Pie

Here's a health to the ox and to his right eye, 
Pray God send our master a good Christmas pie, 
A good Christmas pie as e'er I did see. 
In the Wassail bowl we'll drink unto thee.
 ~ The Gloucestershire Wassail

It is my firm and considered belief that (almost) anything can be improved upon by being encased in, topped with, or otherwise surrounded by a layer of pastry. This universal truth lies at the root of my abiding passion for pasties, samosas, empanadas, and anything en croute, to say nothing of that classic example of Mom's Home Cooking, the pot pie. My mom was what I can only call a dab hand at pastry, and she made chicken or beef pot pie pretty often when I was little, probably because it was a good way to use up leftovers. Oh, god, how I loved those biscuity top crusts; if I could have managed it, I would happily have stolen the entire "lid" for myself, and left the filling for everyone else (minus most of the gravy, of course).

Considering my love for savory pastries of all types, one might imagine that I developed a facility for making them at an early age, but one would be mistaken; as with many things at which my mother excelled (gardening, sewing, knitting), the pie crust gene seemed to have passed me by. Until recently, when I've been emboldened to roll up my sleeves and roll out - if not in - some dough, in the hope that practice might in time make perfect. While I still wouldn't attempt some fancy-pants thing like pâte à choux, I'm happy to report that I can now provide  my household with all the pasties, biscuits and savory pies our greedy, carb-obsessed little hearts might desire.

This particular pie came about as a vehicle for the leftover mushroom gravy from Thanksgiving (, and a worthwhile vehicle it proved. You could obviously use whatever "beef" substitute you fancy (seitan, Gardein, etc.), but I will say that soy curls are particularly good here because of their capacity to absorb liquid and flavor; similarly, you could toss in whatever veggies you have on hand, especially if you have leftover bits and pieces you want to use up. Pop this in the oven, make a batch of mashed potatoes, and in relatively short order you can be digging into a cold weather comfort meal par excellence: easy as (pot) pie!

"Beef" Pot Pie
The Filling
~ 1.5 cups soy curls
~ 3 cups mushroom gravy (recipe linked above)
~ 1 tbsp. olive oil
~ 1 large onion, chopped
~ 1 tbsp. garlic, minced
~ 2 carrots, cut into 1" slices on the diagonal
~ 2 stalks celery, diced
~ 2 bay leaves
~ 1 tsp. poultry seasoning
~ Black pepper to taste
~ 1/2 cup frozen green peas

~ Preheat the oven to 375 degrees fahrenheit, and coat a casserole dish with cooking spray.
~ In a beaker, combine the soy curls and the gravy.
~ Cover and bring to a boil in the microwave, or in a pot on the stove top.
~ Allow to sit, covered, for at least an hour (the longer the better), until the liquid is mostly absorbed.
~ In a large, deep skillet, heat the oil and saute the onions and garlic over medium heat, about 2 minutes.
~ Add the carrots, celery, and seasonings, and cook 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
~ Add the soy curls and mushroom gravy, and the frozen peas, combine thoroughly, and cook another 5 minutes or so, until everything is hot.
~ Remove the bay leaves, and transfer the mixture to your greased casserole. Set aside while you make...

The Crust
~ 2 cups all-purpose flour
~ 1/2 cup cold vegan margarine or shortening (I use a frozen stick of Earth Balance)
~ 8-12 tbsps. ice water

~ Put the flour in a mixing bowl, and cut or grate in the cold margarine or shortening. Mix with your fingers until you get a texture like course crumbs.
~ Add 8 tbsps. of the ice water and mix; add as much additional water as necessary to make a rough, slightly sticky dough.
~ Form the dough into a ball, then turn it out onto a floured board, and use a rolling pin to shape it fit your casserole dish. Carefully transfer the pastry on top of the filling, crimp around the edges to seal, and poke a few holes in the top with a fork.
~ Brush the top with a little plain, unsweetened soy milk, and bake at 375 for 20-25 minutes, until the filling is bubbling and the crust is golden brown. (NB that ovens vary - and mine tends to be a bit slow - so keep an eye on it to make sure it doesn't burn!)
~ Allow to sit briefly before serving hot (accompanied, in a perfect world, by mashed potatoes).

1 comment:

  1. Yes you are right, everything can improved with a layer of pastry :-), even my leftovers! Lovely blog