Whenever I am feeling homesick, I drive to the nearest Whole Foods and scavenge the check-out line magazine racks for the latest issue of Garden and Gun. As far as I can tell, you cannot get this magazine anywhere else here, and I suppose that’s no surprise (what with the word ‘gun’ being in the title!). But it is such a joy for me to flip through its pages. It’s like an update on Southern culture and often it features my hometown, Birmingham. So, when I’m in need of some readable hospitality, a little reality check, or just some really pretty pictures of biscuits I always pick up a copy of Garden and Gun, find a quiet place, and take a trip back home.
Last week, I got a copy and as I was flipping through I saw the most gorgeous picture of a pot pie. The unexpected bonus, which I found while reading the recipe, is that it is vegetarian!! While I was extremely excited about it, I knew immediately that I was going to have to make a few changes.
First, I have a preference for specific types of mushrooms, especially when they are making up a main course like this. I really like using a good mixture of wild mushrooms (if you can find them at your local farmer’s market, this is even better). I know that they are expensive, but the big boost you get in flavor is totally worth it!
My second issue came when I tried to look for the mushroom broth that the recipe calls for. Unfortunately, I could not find anything other than vegetable broth at the store. My solution was to buy some nice mixtures of dried mushrooms. If you rehydrate these mushrooms in warm water, the water conveniently becomes mushroom broth! This broth will be especially delicious and hearty if you buy some nice, meaty mushroom types (like porcini, shiitake, or morels). It’s also a great and sustainable way to repurpose the broth that the dried mushrooms create when you rehydrate them, nothing goes to waste!
Finally, I changed up the herbal notes a bit. Basically, I practically doubled all of the herbs and spices! I love love love Italian parsley, so I added in a ton of that! I also added some fresh thyme and rosemary from my herb garden to boost the aromatic quality of the filling. Oh- and I added a bit of freshly grated nutmeg to the roux as well! The recipe does not call for this but I cannot resist adding it whenever I make a roux. The nutmeg is not really meant to add a strong flavor, but it does definitely add a new depth to the base of the filling, and for this entree I knew that’s what I wanted!
Mushroom Pot Pies
Adapted from Garden and Gun
(makes about 3-5 individual pot pies)
1 ounce dried shiitake mushrooms
1 ounce dried Monterey blend mushrooms
5 cups warm water
1 stick salted butter
1 cup all purpose flour
dash of freshly grated nutmeg
1 tablespoon olive oil
3 cups crimini mushrooms
4 cippolini onions
2 celery stalks
1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
2 tablespoons chopped, fresh, Italian parsley
2 tablespoons minced, fresh chives (I even used a bit more!)
1 teaspoon fresh rosemary, chopped
1/2 teaspoon fresh thyme, de-stemmed and chopped
kosher salt and black pepper to taste
for the crust:
2 1/2 cups tipo 00 flour (feel free to use AP flour here)
1 tablespoon kosher salt
2 sticks salted butter (chilled, but not frozen)
1/2 cup cold, whole milk
1 tablespoon whole milk (for egg wash)
First, you need to set your mushrooms up to rehydrate and make your broth! Measure out 5 cups of warm water into a bowl and place your mushrooms in it (make sure to toss them around so that they are all soaked). Leave them to rest for about 30 minutes.
Next, begin to make your roux. A roux is a thickening base for sauces in classical French cooking. It is traditionally made up of flour and butter (which is how we’re doing it here). It is the base for delicious béchamel sauces, and adding in the grated nutmeg brings it a little closer to this hearty and filling, French sauce. Melt your butter over medium heat in an extra-large, deep saucepan (I even used a wok-like pan). Once the butter has melted, add in the flour slowly and whisk to combine. Continue whisking until the mixture becomes very thick and the butter has browned a bit. It will look a bit like a dough almost, until you add the mushroom broth. Add the nutmeg over the top of the mixture, and mix it in. Drain the rehydrated mushrooms from their broth and add 4 cups of the broth to the roux, mixing it in with a whisk. Turn the heat down low.
Next, prep your vegetables for cooking! Wash the crimini mushrooms. Place all the mushrooms (including the rehydrated ones) on a cutting board and dice them. Add them to a second pan with 1 tablespoon of olive oil, and cook them over medium heat. Stir the mushroom medley occasionally, to keep them cooking until they are soft and tender. Add salt and pepper to taste and then set them to drain on a paper towel.
Next, wash and peel the carrots and the parsnip. Cut off the stems and dice them.
Cook these up in the same pan that you cooked the mushrooms in. Cook until they are just tender, but the carrots are still bright orange. While you are cooking, if you need to add in a bit of the extra mushroom broth to keep them from sticking, do that. Add a bit of salt and pepper, and set aside.
Next, prepare the onions and celery. Clean them and quarter the onions. Slice the celery.
First, add the onions into your same sauce pan, and cook them in a bit more of the mushroom broth. Cook them until they become translucent and then add in the celery. (I missed some of the carrots from before, so they got cooked a little bit more!)
Salt and pepper the celery and onions. Cook them until the celery is bright green.
Next, add all of your veggies into the roux along with the white wine vinegar and dried thyme, and stir it up!
Wash the parsley. Destem it and chop up the leaves. Wash and chop the chives. Destem and chop the rosemary. Destem and chop the fresh thyme. Measure everything out and put it in with the rest of the filling. It will look so beautiful and fresh at this point!
Stir everything together and you have your filling!
It is now time to prepare the dough. Wash the bowl that held the mushrooms and sift the flour into it. Next, add in the kosher salt and mix it all together! Using the large holes of a cheese grater, shave the butter carefully into the bowl. It will be a bit messy, but it’s okay if you lose some to your fingers!
Add in the milk and stir it all together. Knead until it all comes together, feel free to add bit more milk if you need to.
Beat the dough out onto a flat, floured surface. Roll it out flat, until it is about 1/8″ thick.
Gather up your pot pie dishes and preheat the oven to 4oo° F. I bought mine from World Market, and they are fairly big to be single serving pot pies, but they worked out nicely with the filling amount (I ended up making 3 pot pies with these).
Use one of the dishes to measure a circle in the dough. Add about 1/2″ around for extra dough to wrap along the lip of the dish. Next, cut out the circle from the dough.
Then, add your delicious filling to the dishes! Don’t fill them up too much, because you want your bread crust to rise!
Take the circles of dough and carefully wrap them around the lip of the pots, pressing the dough up against the side of the dish. Make sure that the dough is not touching the filling in the middle.
Next, prepare your egg wash. Whisk together an egg in a small ramekin with one tablespoon of whole milk.
Brush your crusts generously with the egg wash.
Place the dishes onto a baking tray and bake them for 20 minutes, or until the tops are crispy and golden looking!
We had some extra dough so we made little dough crackers to go along with the filling.
These make fairly large servings, but if you have smaller dishes you will probably use more of the dough and make more individual sized pot pies.
Let them rest for a few minutes to cool and then enjoy!
These can be kept in the refrigerator for a week or so and reheated!