Monday, November 26, 2012

homemade pot pies

I live in a town that is about 1000 miles away from the town where my parents live, and I have a lot of friends who also live far away enough from their families, and so it's become a Thanksgiving tradition for me to invite to Thanksgiving dinner whomever has not left our town for their home town, and this year I made homemade pot pies for them.  I made one turkey pot pie and one veg pot pie.  I baked them in 10 inch cast iron skillets, and I did not par bake the crusts.  I'd been wondering for several days if I should par bake the crusts, and by the time it came to bake these homemade pot pies I'd decided that, no, I should not par bake the crusts.  The crusts came out great.  I used the pate brisée recipe in the Joy of Cooking.       

I mixed the dough in the food processor, tapping the pulse button to cut the fat (butter and shortening) into the flour.  It worked well.  By the time that the water had been added to the dough and the dough had been formed, I could tell, despite my small amount of experience with pastry dough, that the dough had come out right, which is to say that you should go ahead and use the food processor to save yourself some time.  Just be sure that you don't over-pulse.

To make the filling for the turkey pot pie, I steamed some carrots, celery, and potatoes, and added them to the turkey that I had roasted the night before.  I did not roast an entire turkey.  I roasted one drum stick and two wings.  I also made turkey stock (for the gravy) with a turkey back.  You can cook your turkey in whichever manner you prefer; but whichever manner that is, you should be sure to save the fat and also be sure to make turkey stock.  Commercially produced pot pies never have enough gravy in them, so making them at home is one way to actually eat a delicious pot pie.  A big part of that deliciousness is obviously the gravy, so make a lot of it and dump it over your uncooked pot pie with abandon.  You're not trying to become as thin as a rail.  You're trying to make something that tastes amazing.  So don'g be crazy! Go gravy!

I should say two things: I had help making these homemade pot pies, help assembling them, help making and rolling out the dough, and help thinking about how to go about making them.  So that's one thing.  The other is that we forgot to brush the dough with milk before baking the pot pies, and so our top crusts came out a lot harder than one might desire, a small problem that ceased to be a problem when reheating these pot pies as leftovers.  Long story short: if you want a softer crust, brush the dough with milk before baking the pies.

In the end, I made too much food.  The next day, I also made promises to make less food next year.  I know that Thanksgiving is partly about an over-abundance of food (and side dishes), but I would like to see a Thanksgiving table with a trimmer menu.  I think one only needs the main course and a few important side dishes.  A very do-able and sophisticated turkey day menu would look like this:

Turkey pot pies 
Mashed Potatoes
Winter squash or other root vegetable 
Brussels sprouts or other seasonal green veg
Cranberry jelly 

That alone is enough to keep at least one cook busy for at least two whole days.  It isn't really necessary to make a million other sides, though there is probably something to be said about this over-abundance, and there is definitely something to be said about guests arriving at your door, each with a hot, foil-covered side in their gloved hands.


gspot said...

That pate brise recipe is the only one you'll ever need, it is DO' BOMB FO SHO!


Dr. Crowbar said...

I now hunger for pot pies.

hilary said...

oh god this looks good. feeling very hungry looking at these photos in a wee hour