(March 6, 2020) As I continue the path of progression, I find myself peering in the window of reflection.
Bittersweet are the images before me. One cannot embrace the future if they ignore the past.
As a young child, I remember watching my great-grandmother make mouth-watering pies.
I was fascinated with her precision and attention to details. There were no written recipes, the textures and flavors were her guide.
Wisdom is a process that comes with maturity. I finally realized Grandma Sheiler’s secret to cooking.
Whether her pies would have taken top honors is secondary. What’s important is she cooked with love and it is that devotion and commitment to truth that made her meals memorable.
Cooking far exceeds the boundaries of one’s kitchen. And if you remember this, you will focus on passion and allow perfection to take its course.
Chicken pot pies are an American classic. The buttery, flaky crust pairs beautifully with the fragrant, creamy sauce and tender chunks of chicken.
The weather is warming up but we are not out of the woods yet. There is plenty of time to savor the deliciousness of this comfort food at its finest.
Following are a few tips to enlighten one on the subject of pot pies.
No matter what type of pot pie you intend to prepare, you should use fresh meat as opposed to leftovers. Adding a protein that has already been cooked and subject it to a second heating process will yield a tough, dry consistency.
If one is going in the direction of a chicken pot pie, you might want to consider using dark meat versus white meat, or a combination of both. Breast meat can be on the dry side; just another “food for thought.”
Typically, pot pie does not have an abundance of ingredients, so it is imperative to build your flavor profile whenever possible.
As a result, when you are making the sauce, always use stock as opposed to water. If you want to take it up a notch, use homemade stock.
Any thickened sauce depends on a roux. Cook the roux until it turns a light golden-brown color. This will help get rid of the “flour” taste and allow the other ingredients to come to the forefront.
The aromatics and vegetables will depend on the type of pot pie you are preparing.
Concentrate on your personal preference as opposed to what is considered customary. Allow creativity to embellish your pies. For example, wild mushrooms pair beautifully with chicken or seafood pot pies.
While we are on the subject of vegetables, there is a trend to serve them on the side as opposed to placing them in the actual pie. This way, the vegetables can be prepared for a stunning presentation.
Choosing the right pastry is key for a successful pie and up for debate. Contrary to popular belief, there are no right answers, just an abundance of possibilities that depend on the individual chef.
Some cooks prefer a top crust to a top and bottom layer of dough. Some pot pie purists will consider nothing less than a traditional pie crust.
There are those loyalists who will defend drop biscuits to the very end. And then there is a wave of modernism that embraces the convenience and embellishment of puff pastry. It is these types of subtle particulars that define a chef.
The Eastern Shore is known for its abundance of fresh seafood. Lobster pot pie is the king of pot pies. Adding shrimp gives the dish depth of flavor and helps cut the cost.
If you relish the thought of homemade pot pies and succulent seafood, you will want to give lobster and shrimp pot pie a try. Enjoy!
Lobster and Shrimp Pot Pie
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
4 large cloves garlic, minced
1 medium yellow onion, minced
2 tablespoons combined yellow, orange and red bell peppers, finely chopped
1 tablespoon fresh parsley, finely chopped
8 baby portobello mushrooms, gills removed, and thinly sliced
1/3 cup good quality brandy or dry sherry
3 tablespoons flour, plus more for rolling out pastry dough
3 cups heavy cream
1 to 1½ tablespoons seafood base
1 pound raw fresh or frozen lobster meat, thawed and cut into 3/4-inch pieces
1 pound fresh or frozen shrimp (31-40 count), deveined, shell and tail removed
1/8 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1 teaspoon Herbs de Province
few pinches of cayenne pepper
kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
1 (14-ounce) package puff pastry
1 egg, beaten
1. Melt butter in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add garlic, onions, peppers, parsley and mushrooms, and cook for approximately 3 minutes.
2. Add brandy, and cook for another 2 minutes.
3. Whisk in 3 tablespoons flour, cook until flour turns slightly golden brown, about 4 to 5 minutes.
4. Add cream and seafood base, bring to a boil, and then reduce heat to medium. When the sauce has slightly thickened, stir in nutmeg, Herbs de Province, cayenne pepper, salt and freshly ground pepper.
5. In the meantime, steam the lobster and shrimp for 4 minutes. When cooled, wrap the seafood in paper towels and squeeze the excess juice.
6. Heat oven to 425 degrees.
7. Divide seafood and sauce between four (8-ounce) ramekins set on a baking sheet.
8. On a lightly floured surface, roll out the puff pastry into a 12-inch square, then cut out four (4 ½-inches circles).
9. Brush edges of ramekins with egg, place one circle of dough over each ramekin and press to seal.
10. Brush pastry with egg, bake until top is golden brown and filling is bubbly, about 20 to 25 minutes. Serve immediately.
Secret Ingredient – Memories. “Yesterday is but today’s memory, tomorrow is today’s dream.”
– Kahlil Gibran