I do actually have some knitting to report, but will leave that to the next post. This one’s all about pie. Beef Pot Pie, to be specific. We had a chuck roast that we braised earlier this week, and there was quite a bit left, so I made pie out of it last night. It is a terrific way to use up leftover beef, though it is a bit labor intensive and takes a while to do it properly. Like my chicken pie, you can do shortcuts and use precooked or frozen veggies instead of starting with fresh, and I suppose you could find pre-made beef gravy in the store. I guarantee that it will NOT taste like this, though. Get somebody to help you as a sous chef, or at the very least as a scullery assistant washing pots and pans. John promised that if I would make this, he would wash dishes. Since I love to cook, but hate the clean up, and he promised me a martini, I was in.
“Will Cook For Martinis”, that should be my motto.
Here it is. It’s a long winded, rather disjointed recipe, so read to the end before you start. It’s also pretty free-form. You can add whatever veggies you like, or whatever you think goes together. It’s basically in four parts: the leftover beef, the starchy veggies, the aromatics (onions and seasonings), and the gravy. OK, five, if you count the pie crust.
Lorette’s Beef Pot Pie
I bake the pie in a medium size shallow saute pan, it’s about 10 inches across and 3 inches deep. A pie plate is too small. Basically you need something big enough to hold everything, but not so deep a pot that the crust doesn’t ever brown. You can use a deep dish pie pan, but the amount here probably won’t fit.
Leftover Roast Beef, I probably used about 2-3 cups, cut or torn up into eating pieces
The veggie amounts are very approximate. Use what you have, use what you like. I usually get out the pan I’m going to bake this in and start cutting up the veggies right into the pan to estimate how much I need.
Potatoes, peeled and cubed, about 1 1/2 cups
Carrots, cut up, about 1 1/2 cups
Parsnip, about the same amount
Turnips, about the same amount
Rutabagas would be good, maybe corn, broccoli, cauliflower, green beans. Use your judgement, for things like beans or cauliflower, you might just steam them lightly before adding.
I generally cut the veggies into pieces about the same size, so they all cook the same, but make them as big or as little as you like.
Peas, about a cup, I used frozen. Run warm water over them in a strainer to thaw them. I don’t bother to cook them.
Onions of some sort. You can use chopped yellow onions, but I used frozen pearl onions for this, about 1 1/2 cups.
Celery, two or three stalks, diced
Mushrooms. I used crimini mushrooms, probably about 2 cups once they were broken up. I cleaned them, then broke them up into halves or quarters with my hands. You can cut them, but I like the texture you get when you break them manually.
I forgot garlic this time, but you can chop some garlic and add as well. I would add it to the mushrooms when you add the anchovies (see later)
Bacon, 3 thick slices
Anchovies from a can, 2-3 little anchovies, very finely chopped.
Dried herbs, I used Herbes de Provence, a healthy teaspoon. You could use dried thyme instead.
Parsley, fresh, chopped, about 1/2 cup.
Flour, 3 tablespoons, about. I eyeball this kind of thing.
Fat, 3 tablespoons. I used duck fat, since I had it in the fridge, you can use butter instead.
Beef stock, about 3 cups. I used a product that comes as a concentrate in little tubes that you add to water, but you can use a good quality boxed stock. I don’t like canned beef stock, it tastes too weird to me. Obviously if you happen to have homemade beef stock on hand, use that.
One pie crust. Either get the store bought kind or make your own. I made my own this time, using the recipe from the Joy Of Cooking, minus the sugar. Pillsbury’s ready made crusts are quite acceptable, I just didn’t have one and didn’t want to make a special trip for it.
Cut up the meat, add it to your “pie pan”
Cut up all your veggies
I pre-cook the carrots, parsnips, turnips and potatoes. I cooked the first three all together in a pot of water just until barely done, then added them to the beef in the baking pan. I then boiled the potatoes and added them. You can boil them all together, but the potatoes tend to get done faster and turn to mush. Put your veggies in the baking pan with the beef.
If you are using other veggies, use your judgement, but most of them will need some pre-cooking, except for things like frozen peas and corn. The veggies don’t cook much in the baking time.
Fry the bacon in a saute pan, then drain and chop. Add to the baking pan.
In the same saute pan, in the bacon grease, cook the onions. I cooked the frozen pearl onions right out of the bag, just add to the fat and cook slowly until they are nice and brown. Add these to the pie.
In the bacon grease pan, saute the celery and mushrooms, you probably will need to add a little fat, duck fat, butter, or cooking oil. Duck fat is terrific for cooking. I always keep a container of this in the refrigerator. I might die sooner, but hey, it tastes great. Cook until the mushrooms are nice and browned.
Now add those chopped anchovies to the pan with the mushrooms, cook for a minute. If you don’t want to mess with the anchovies, you could just use a little worcestershire sauce to the gravy part, but I love the richness that this gives to the whole thing. Here’s where I would add the garlic, if I hadn’t forgotten it.
Add the mushroom mess to the baking pan with everything else. Now add your seasonings, dried herbs, salt and pepper, and the parsley. Toss in the peas. Stir everything up in the baking pan.
In regards to salt, you might taste whatever beef stock you are using for the gravy before you add salt to the meat and veggies. Especially if you are using canned stock, this can really be a salt bomb.
Now you need gravy. I just basically make a simple brown sauce with a flour roux and beef stock. For about 3 cups of gravy:
Melt 3 T duck fat or butter in a 2-3 quart saucepan (Why, yes, this recipe DOES dirty a lot of dishes, since when is that a problem?)
Stir in 3 T flour, cook over medium heat until it is very nice and brown, sort of the color of pecans. You need to whisk it pretty much constantly, though you can do other things in the kitchen, just keep a close eye on it. If it burns, toss it out and start over.
Once your flour-fat roux is brown, gradually whisk in 3 cups of beef stock. I take it off the heat to do this. Be careful, it tends to sputter a bit. Whisk it well so it doesn’t lump up. Put it back on the heat and cook over medium-high heat until it is thick, like nice Thanksgiving gravy. If it’s not thick enough, add a little cornstarch-water slurry to thicken it. I have found that duck fat roux doesn’t thicken quite as well, not sure why that is.
When you have the gravy thickened, poor it over the rest of the stuff in the baking pan. Mix it all up.
Here’s what it looked like at this point.
Put a pie crust on top, cut some slits in the top for steam. I brush the top of the crust with a bit of egg yolk that I stir up with a fork for a minute, but you don’t necessarily need to do that.
Heat your oven to 375, pop in the pie and bake until done. This takes about 30-40 minutes, start watching it towards the end of the cooking time, you want your crust to be a bit browned and crispy. The ingredients on the inside are already cooked, so it’s mostly to cook your crust and heat everything through. The time will depend a little on your oven, and also how deep your baking dish is.
Enjoy with some crusty bread and a nice glass of red wine!