They say that what goes around, comes around – and what’s old becomes new again. I’m really glad to know that because so many of my old favorite foods that went the way of the pencil, spiral notebook and typewriter are making a comeback under the caption of “comfort foods” and comfort they do bring!
A favorite from the farms was pot pies – a great way to use up leftover beef from Sunday’s roast or Saturday’s chicken….bits of carrots, peas, celery, potatoes, etc. that weren’t enough by themselves to make a meal but when put together with some flavorsome gravy and Mom’s best pie crust….well, that was comfort, all right!
So in honor of the upcoming Mother’s Day, this week we will be doing some of Mom’s best….today: her Beef Pot Pie.
This recipe comes from one of my old favorite cookbooks (with my own adjustments made over the years) – one I first borrowed from a library, then bought. It is called “Cooking for One is Fun” and in making most of the recipes in it, I had to agree! I’ve already doubled this for you but if there are more in your family, just make more of them!
Sit back, dig in and enjoy!
2 Individual Beef Pot Pies
- 2 Tbsp. canola or peanut oil
- 12 oz. beef chuck or stew meat, cut in small cubes *
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 4 Tbsp. chopped onions
- Salt & pepper to taste
- 2 tsp. flour
- 4 regular carrots, cut in 1″ slices
- 8 mushrooms, sliced
- 2 Tbsp. tomato paste
- 1/2 tsp. fresh thyme (or 1 tsp. dried thyme)
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 c water
- Pastry crusts (your own or the one below)
Brown the meat in the oil in a large, heavy Dutch Oven, on high heat, a few pieces at a time until all are browned on all sides, stirring all the time. Don’t let them crowd or they won’t brown. When each piece is brown, remove it and add more.
When all are brown, return everything (including juices) to the Dutch Oven and add garlic, onions, salt and pepper. Stir everything for about 1 minute longer. Sprinkle with flour and stir well.
Preheat oven to 400. Add all remaining ingredients (except pastry crust), stir well and simmer about 30 minutes or until meat is tender.
Pour the stew into 2 ovenproof ramekins and cover completely with pastry crust (crust can either be tucked down into ramekin or crimped around the top or can overhang and stick to the sides of the ramekin – your choice. Cut a small hole in the top of each or several slits so steam can escape. (You can brush with melted butter or a few drops of oil to make the crust shine if you wish or use an egg wash.) . Or you can use puff pastry instead of the traditional pie crust if you prefer. Decorate the top if you want to fancy it up
Bake at 400 for 30 minutes. Let rest for about 5 minutes. If top is not golden brown, you may put it under the broiler for a few minutes to brown. Serve hot and steaming!
* Leftover roast works perfectly well with this. Just cut it up and proceed. It won’t take as long to brown but still let the “stew” cook as above so the meat absorbs the juices from everything and they get the meat flavor.
Easy Pastry for 2 Pot Pies:
- 1-1/2 c flour
- 1/4 tsp. salt
- 4 tsp. lard or vegetable shortening
- 2 Tbsp. ice water
Place the flour and salt in a mixing bowl. Cut in the shortening with a fork or a pastry cutter until pieces are the almost granular. Use a small bowl that you can use one hand to turn and one to cut in the shortening. This will take some time.
Add the water, a little at a time, and continue to work the dough until it makes a ball. You may not need all the water. Once it becomes a ball, knead the dough well by hand; wrap and refrigerate for about 30 minutes.
Roll out the dough on a floured board with a well floured rolling pin. Make 2 crusts, one for each ramekin and be sure they are evenly rolled. They need to be larger than the top of the ramekin so it is completely covered and the filling doesn’t leak out.