Saturday, January 21, 2017

Pecan Veal Pot Pie

     Gourmet Savory Pot Pie!
     The history of pie began in France sometime in the late European Dark Ages or early Medieval period in history.  Peasants combined contaminated old grain flour with salt and animal fat to produce an inedible dough that could be shaped like clay.  The salt dough was shaped like a hollow ball or pie shape, then filled with cooked savory food.  The salt dough container was sealed airtight, then it was heated till the dough hardened.  The result was pasteurized food sealed in a container that could be stored in a cold place for several weeks during the cold fall and winter seasons.  When it came time to access the food stored in the inedible pie crust, the salt dough container was broken open and the contents were heated up for a meal.  The inedible pie crust was discarded or fed to the farm animals.    
     During the Renaissance Age, better means of prepared food storage replaced the inedible pie crust storage method.  Peasants were no longer subject to the low level of poverty that they had to endure during the age of Feudalism.  The history of pie also progressed during this period in history.  Pies were no longer just a means for storing food during the cold seasons.  Cooks started making pie crust with edible dough.  The first edible pies were filled with savory stewed meat.  Common fruit pies came along at a much later date, because During the Renaissance Age, fruit was usually just eaten raw and sugar was a luxury item reserved for only the elite members of society. 
     In modern times, Sweet Fruit Pies are the first thing that crosses the mind of most people when the word "pie" is spoken.  When somebody mentions savory pies, listeners first think of Pot Pies and English style Meat Pies.  Savory Pies are much less common in this modern age and fruit pies are no longer reserved for elite members of society.  
     Traditional Savory Pot Pies completely seal the meaty contents inside a pie crust.  The word "Pot" in Pot Pie actually refers to cooking the savory filling in a pot, before the meaty ingredients are placed in a pie dough shell.  A classic Pot Pie looks like a pie.     
     During the last 300 years, cooks started making Pot Pie by placing the stewed savory ingredients in a ceramic baking ramekin or casserole dish, then a sheet of pie dough was pinched over the rim of the ceramic container before baking.  Many people think this is the original Pot Pie, but it is not.
     During the last 30 years, restaurant chefs started taking shortcuts when making Pot Pie that stretched the limits of the definition of Pot Pie.  For example, some chefs simply fill a soup bowl with chicken stew and place a piece of baked puff pastry on top, then they call this concoction a Chicken Pot Pie.  In my opinion, something like this cannot be called a Pot Pie!  Plopping a piece of baked puff pastry on a bowl of stew in no way resembles a pie of any kind.    
     Modern Pot Pies should be prepared in one of these three ways, to satisfy the definition of pie:
     • A pie dough crust that completely surrounds the savory filling. 
     • A savory filling that placed in a metal or ceramic container and sealed with a pie dough crust top before baking. 
     • A savory filling that is placed in a baked pie crust shell, with an open top.  
     The "Open Top Style Pot Pie" is relatively easy to prepare.  All that a cook has to do is bake a pie shell, then fill it with a savory filling.  Of course a creative chef would take it one step further and make the pie shell crust look extra fancy, especially if the savory filling was made with gourmet ingredients.  This is what today's Open Top Pot Pie recipe is all about and it sure looks better than a bowl of stew with a piece of baked puff pastry plopped on top!  

     Pâte Brisée (French Pie Crust Dough):
     Follow the link to the recipe in this website:  

     Making a Rectangle Pie Shell Mold:  
     Keep in mind, the fancy pie crust does have to be a rectangle shape!  Any single portion baking mold that has a wide rim can be used!
     For some reason I thought that a small rectangle pie shell shape would be best.  Small rectangular shallow baking molds are kind of a specialty item and I had none in my kitchen.  
     Here is how I made a "make shift" rectangular pie crust baking mold for today's recipe.  I only suggest doing this maneuver, if a rectangular pie shell is desired and there is no suitable rectangle baking mold with a wide rim in the kitchen.  The stages of making the fancy rectangle pie shell can be seen in the photos above.  The pie dough sheet was also cut to fit the mold, with a wide enough border to make a fancy serrated pie crust edge.  
     •  Make a small amount of wet soft salt dough paste with water, salt and flour.  
     •  Use the salt dough to glue 4 Stainless Steel Cannoli Tubes onto a baking pan, so they create a rectangle shape.  
     •  Bake in a 350ºF oven till the salt dough hardens.  
     •  Cool the completed rectangular baking mold to room temperature.
     • The pie dough sheet can now be fitted to the rectangle mold.   

     Fancy Serrated Pie Shell:
     This recipe describes making 1 single portion pie shell with a "Sunburst" serrated crust edge.  
     Any kind of individual portion size pie mold (or baking mold) that has a wide rim can be used to make a pie shell for today's recipe.  A wide cup muffin pan would work well too, because to top of the pan around each muffin cup is flat, so the fancy cut extended edge of the pie shell can drape over the flat surface. 
     Step 1:  Select (or make) a single portion baking mold that has a 6 ounce to 8 ounce capacity.  
     Step 2:  Lightly dust a countertop with flour.
     Place a 10 ounce portion of Pie Crust Dough on the floured countertop.
     Roll a 3/16" thick sheet of chilled Pâte Brisée that is about 4" to 5" wider than the single portion baking mold.  (Use your own judgement to gauge the size.  It is better to have excess than it is to come up short!)    
     Step 3:  Lightly brush the pie shell mold with melted unsalted butter.
     Drape the pie dough sheet over the mold.
     Gently press the dough into place and let the edges drape over the wide rim of the baking mold.
     Step 4:  Use kitchen shears to trim pie crust edges, so they are about 3/4" wider than the container part of the baking mold.
     Use kitchen shears to cut a triangle shaped serrated edge.  
     Step 5:  Cut a piece of parchment paper that is the same size as the bottom of the pie shell.
     Brush the paper with melted unsalted butter.
     Place the butters parchment paper in the pie shell.  
     Fill the pie shell with dried beans.
     Step 6:  Place pie dough lined baking mold in a 375ºF oven.
     Bake till the crust becomes firm and light golden highlights appear.
     Step 7:  Remove the par baked "white" pie shell from the oven and let it cool to room temperature.
     Empty out the dried beans and remove the parchment paper.
     Step 8:  Lightly brush the pie shell with egg wash that is thinned with a few drops of water.
     Return the baking mold to the 375ºF oven.
     Bake the pie shell till golden brown highlights appear.
     Step 9:  Remove the baking mold from the oven.
     Allow the pie shell to cool to room temperature.
     Carefully pop the finished pie shell out of the baking mold.
     Set it aside where it will not be damaged.

     Pecan Veal Pot Pie Filling:
     This recipe yields about 1 1/2 cups.  (1 portion or enough for a single portion Pot Pie)   
     Step 1:  Cut 6 ounces of veal leg or shoulder meat into large bite size pieces.
     Lightly dredge the veal pieces in flour that is lightly seasoned with sea salt and white pepper.
     Step 2:  Heat a wide sauce pot over medium heat.  
     Add 3 tablespoons of unsalted butter.
     Add the floured veal pieces.  
     Sauté till golden brown highlights appear on all sides.
     Step 3:  Drain off any excess butter.
     Return the pot to medium heat.    
     Step 4:  Add 2 cups of light veal stock or chicken stock.
     Add 1 cup of water.
     Add 1/4 cup of brandy.  
     Add 1 small bay leaf.
     Stir the ingredients occasionally as the liquid comes to a gentle boil and thickens to a very thin consistency.
     Step 5:  Add 1/4 cup of peeled celery that is cut into bite size pieces.
     Add 1/4 cup of carrot that is cut into large bite size pieces.
     Add 1 teaspoon of minced shallot.
     Add 1/4 teaspoon of garlic paste.
     Add 1 tablespoon of minced onion.
     Return the stewing sauce to a gentle boil. 
     Step 6:  Reduce the temperature to low heat.
     Add 5 large bite size pieces of russet potato that are cut into rectangular shapes.  (About 1/3 cup)
     Add 1 tablespoon of minced toasted pecan.
     Add 1 pinch of rubbed sage.
     Add 1 pinch of thyme leaves.
     Add 1/2 teaspoon of canned small green peppercorns that were packed in brine.
     Taste and adjust the seasoning with sea salt if necessary.
     Step 7:  Gently simmer and reduce till the sauce is a medium thin consistency that easily coats the ingredients.  (Gently stir the stew occasionally, so the potatoes do not break apart.)  
     Step 8:  Remove the bay leaf.
     Keep the Pecan Veal Pot Pie Filling warm over very low heat.   

     Pecan Veal Pot Pie:
     This recipe yields 1 entrée.  
     Step 1:  Place the fancy single portion pot pie shell on the center of a plate.
     Carefully spoon the Pecan Veal Pot Pie Filling into the pie shell and try to build some height in the center.  (Mound the pot pie filling sky high!)
     Step 2:  Sprinkle 1 tablespoon of sliced toasted pecan over the pot pie filling.  
     Sprinkle 2 to 3 pinches of minced Italian Parsley over the pot pie and on the plate. 

     Viola!  This modern gourmet pot pie looks and tastes great!    

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