How to Make a Perfect Pot Pie

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I’ve never quite understood why America isn’t more into meat pies. You can get them at diners and frozen at the grocery store, but they seem ubiquitous in England and Australia, available at any gas station or convenience store. And really, what’s not to love? It’s meat stew in a pastry crust. That’s pretty much a perfect meal.

Hotel Chantelle in New York is starting up “Pot Pie Wednesdays” to help New Yorkers deal with the cold weather, but pot pies are first and foremost comfort food, something that should be made in every kitchen. Executive Chef Seth Levine gave us some tips on how to up your pot pie game. You’ll never go to the freezer section again.

Use what you like
Pot pies are a very forgiving food, so feel free to use whatever ingredients you like best, as long as they’re good quality. “Even if you’re making the traditional chicken pot pie, start from scratch and use all fresh vegetables,” says Levine. You can use dark or white meat as you prefer. And remember, pot pie keeps well as long as you freeze it without the crust. “Uncooked crust and pot pie freeze very well separately. Just defrost both and bake before eating.”

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But use some restraint
Pot pies are also one of those foods that’s good for utilizing leftovers, but you don’t want to throw your entire fridge into the crust. Levine says he sees a lot of home cooks mixing together whatever ingredients they have, and then trying to make up for it by adding too many overpowering herbs. Also, make sure the vegetables you’re using are still good stewed. You don’t want “vegetables that tend to get mushy and that don’t hold up to heat after a long cook time.”

Get experimental
There’s nothing wrong with a solid crust and a creamy chicken filling, but pot pies can be so much more. For the crust, you can use anything from phylo to cornbread, and the filling can be just as varied. “You can get inventive with a taco pot pie, or cheeseburger, pizza, vegetarian,” says Levine. “Some amazing combos, while keeping the traditional creaminess, are beef and mushrooms, lobster and corn, turkey and green beans. And if you really want to kick it up a notch, add some seasonal shaved truffles.” Also, got some leftover stew or curry? Chicken tikka masala makes an excellent filling. Or try Chef Levine’s lobster version, which utilizes wild mushroom and brandy. Who said pot pie has to be humble?

Hotel Chantelle Executive Chef Seth Levine’s Lobster Pot Pie

Ingredients 

  • 3 tbsp unsalted butter
  • 1 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 2 shallots, minced
  • 1/8 cup brandy
  • 1/4 cup white wine
  • 3 tbsp flour
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 1 lb. raw fresh lobster meat cut into bite size pieces
  • 1/2 cup of shelled fresh peas
  • 1/4 cup of wild mushrooms (type depending on season) cut
  • 2 cobs fresh corn, shaved
  • 1 cup fish or lobster stock
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1 egg beaten
  • Kosher salt to taste
  • black pepper to taste
  • 1 package puff pastry (here is a cheat for an at-home cook)

Instructions 

  1. Heat oven to 450°. Melt butter in a large saucepan over medium heat, add oil. Add shallots and sweat for 3–4 minutes. Turn heat up to medium-high, add brandy, wine, and stock, cook until reduced by half. Add flour and whisk making sure to get out any lumps. Cook for 1–2 minutes. Add cream and bring to a boil. Sauce should thicken within 3–4 minutes. Stir in lobster, nutmeg, salt, and pepper. Continue cooking for 3–4 minutes, add corn, mushrooms, peas, continue cooking for 3–4 more minutes.
  2. Divide creamy lobster mixture between four ramekins roll pastry into a large square cut out four circles big enough to cover the ramekins and leave a small overage. Brush edges of ramekin with egg. Top each and press to seal. Brush pastry with remaining egg. bake at 425 until golden brown on top 15–20 minutes.