As I was thinking about my blogging schedule, I was very aware that I’m overdue for a #piegoals update. The significance of this fact is that it was high time for me to get in the kitchen and do the work needed to make progress towards my goals. As much as I love pie, baking a dessert pie on a regular basis can be damaging to one’s waistline as I addressed in a prior post. You can read all about how I minimized the damage here. That said, I need to work on my skills so baking full-size pies is a necessity. One idea for how to do this was to bake a pot pie for dinner, so I’ll share more on that experience as well as a quick tool and book review.
First, in preparation for a year of pie baking, I invested in a couple of new tools that I put to work as I prepared my first pie of the new year. A relatively inexpensive tool which worked nicely is the Dexas Dough Prep Set which I picked up at Bed Bath and Beyond for $14.99. The set includes a handle and four interchangeable plastic blades which can be used for pastry, pies, and pizza. I used the fluted wheel to trim the edges of my dough once I rolled it out. It was very easy to change out the wheel and to use it. Also, the handle was very comfortable in my hand. This wheel enabled me to quickly and easily cut attractive, even fluted edges. Previously I had just been cutting my edges with a knife, and they were not all that neat or attractive. The second new tool I used is an Emile Henry square baker which I fell in love with while shopping at Williams-Sonoma. I’ll share more about how this worked out later in the post.
With that bit of background, after discovering the ability to borrow e-books from my local library, I decided to check out a book titled Dinner Pies: From Shepherd’s Pies and Pot Pies to Tarts, Turnovers, Quiches, Hand Pies, and More, with 100 Delectable and Foolproof Recipes by Ken Haedrich. This book appealed to me as I liked the idea of a savory winter pie given our recent cold (by LA standards) rainy weather.
After reading the introductory chapters, I browsed the various pie recipes on a cold wet afternoon and decided upon the Shrimp Pot Pie. The recipe was for a single crust pie, with the author’s intent being that you would make individual pot pies. I decided against this as I did not have deep enough individual pans, and I only had two of them. The recipe called for Haedrich’s Go-to Pie Crust which uses a combination of shortening and butter with a touch of vinegar to ensure flakiness. One of the things I really liked about the crust recipe is that the author encourages using a food processor to make the crust, and provides very good instructions for doing so. The recipe for this crust is provided on the Amazon page that I linked to above and I would say that this is a good all around pie crust recipe.
The recipe for the pie filling was simple, but honestly, this is an area where I experienced a bit of disappointment. The combination of shrimp and vegetables was good — the problem was the sauce which called for a combination of heavy cream and half and half. The only seasoning for the sauce was a bit of parsley, pimenton, thyme, salt, and pepper. As a result, the sauce was really rich but also very bland. To create more flavor, I added a bit of lobster flavored Better than Bouillon from my refrigerator which really helped. In retrospect, a reduction with a stock perhaps made from the shrimp shells and less of the heavy dairy might have provided a better result. I know the author’s intent was to keep things simple, but why not have flavor and fewer calories?
After adjusting the flavor of the sauce, I followed the directions to allow the filling to cool in the hopes of keeping the sauce from boiling over or reducing too much while baking. Unfortunately, that didn’t seem to work very well for me. As you can see in the finished photos, after baking a great deal of the sauce escaped and pooled atop the crust. I suspect that with a two crust pie the sealed edges would have minimized this problem.
I did attempt to get cute with the top of the pie and made some fish cut-outs for decoration. I cut these out freehand as I did not have fish-shaped cookie cutters. In retrospect, I should have applied the eggwash before putting on my fish decorations.
In the end, while the recipe ended up fine in the taste department, it was disappointing in overall appearance. My biggest problem was the sauce pool on top. It may have been helpful to use a pan that was not quite as deep as my pretty new Emile Henry baker, and to try and seal the edges of the crust tightly against the side of the pan. To do that, I should have cut my crust larger.
By the way, after baking the pot pie I had some dough leftover so I decided to use it to make some turkey chorizo empanadas which were quite yummy. The turkey chorizo was made in house by my local market. I briefly sauteed about a half cup each of chopped onion and red bell pepper then added to the pan 1/2 pound of turkey chorizo breaking it up as it cooked. Because the meat was already heavily spiced, I just added a bit of salt to taste. I let that cool for a few minutes before stuffing the dough. Then I sealed the edges with a fork, pricked the tops and brushed them with the leftover eggwash. I then baked them in a pre-heated 350° F oven for 30 minutes until nicely browned.
My verdict on this cookbook is still out, but I plan to try a few more recipes before it’s time to return it. There were several vegetable based pies of interest and one on Haedrich’s website for a Collard Tart au Gratin that I really want to try as I love collard greens.
I hope to provide my next update sooner, and in the meantime would love to hear any suggestions for pie recipes to try or technique suggestions.