I love pot pies for several reasons.
First, they're easy to make if you ignore the whole pie crust thing - I don't use it!
You can use almost any veggies you have in the fridge.
You can make cute little mini versions for friends!
That's what I did, in this case. My bffs were coming over to my house, and I wanted something cute but hearty since it was kind of cold outside.
This is a very standard version of pot pie - the only difference is that I used shrimp instead of chicken. I make it exactly the same way with chicken, so don't fret!
Here's what you'll need for 1 pie or 4 individual pies:
- 1 sheet puff pastry
- cooking spray
- 1/2 cup grated sharp cheddar cheese (optional)
- olive oil
- 1 1/2 cups shrimp or shredded cooked chicken
- old bay (if using shrimp)
- 1 medium onion
- 2 ribs celery
- 2 medium carrots
- 1/2 cup frozen peas (optional)
- 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme, or 2 sprigs fresh thyme
- salt and pepper
- 2 tablespoons flour
- 2 cups vegetable or chicken stock
- 1 cup milk or half and half
Preheat your oven to 425F, if you're going to cook the pies right away.
Then, first and foremost, take one sheet of puff pastry out of the freezer - it'll need 30 minutes to thaw, which happens nicely while you make the filling for the pie.
This looks like a lot of ingredients, but it's really not! The veggies are super simple and delicious, too. I like to chop them all up while the pan is heating up for the shrimp or chicken.
I had these pre-cut carrots, but obviously any carrots that are on sale or wilting in your fridge will be perfect. I cut all the veggies into little chunks so they make an even sauce.
For the celery, I cut the ribs into strips, then into little bits.
Then I chop the onion into bits the same size as the celery and carrot - easy!
Yay veggies! By now your pan should be hot. Grab your shrimp, or chicken if it isn't already cooked! I love the frozen shrimp in bags - it goes on sale half off occasionally, so buy a lot and keep it in the freezer when you see that happen!
Now, with a little drizzle of olive oil drop the shrimp into the hot pan, and sprinkle them with old bay or other seafood or blackening seasoning. If you don't have that, use salt and pepper and get over it.
Glorious! Toss the shrimp around for about 2 minutes. When they're pink all the way through remove them to a plate to hang out while you make the rest of the gravy.
To the still hot pan, add another drizzle of olive oil then the veggies, a sprinkle of salt and pepper, and the thyme.
Perfect. I added a pat of butter too, but you don't have to be as unhealthy as me unless you want to.
Turn the heat down to medium, and let the veggies soften for 5-10 minutes while you drink several glasses of wine while congratulating yourself on cooking things from scratch.
Yum. When the veggies are tender, sprinkle the flour over the whole pan, and stir it together with the veggies for about a minute - it'll look kind of pasty.
The flour is what makes the gravy taste like....gravy, instead of....boiling milk.
Once the flour has cooked for a minute or so, slowly pour in the chicken stock, stirring as you do so. Add a cup first, then add more to make the right amount of gravy at the thickness you desire.
Mmm. Stir that around, then add in the milk or half and half.
Great! Now, keep adding milk and chicken stock until the gravy looks a TEENY bit thinner than you'd like it to be - it'll thicken up in the oven! Taste it, die a thousand happy deaths, and add some more salt and pepper if you'd like.
Mmm, bubbly lovely gravy. While the gravy is thickening and bubbling, cut the shrimp or chicken into little pieces, then stir them into the gravy and turn off the heat.
Lovely. Now, at this point you can put the gravy into a tupperware container in the fridge for up to three days, then proceed whenever you're ready to serve the pot pie.
Or, you can keep on keepin' on right now.
Spoon the gravy into whatever you're going to use to bake the pie - I had 4 little dishes!
Good. Now, grab the thawed puff pastry sheet. Lay it out flat, then use your fingers or a rolling pin to press it out to roughly the size of the dish or dishes you'll be covering.
Great. Now, using very precise mathematical methods, cut the dough so it fits in the dishes you're using.
For example, I had 4 oval containers, so I made 4 rectangles. Precise, like I said! This is SERIOUSLY not a big deal. Puff pastry is magical and will rise and look pretty even if it isn't touching the edges of the pan. However, if you'd like to stretch and press the pastry over the edges of your baking dish, be my guest.
I, however, cut rectangles and lay them over the pie filling.
Fancy, huh? Not really. Tuck in any rogue ends, they'll rise and be lovely too.
Now, spray the tops of the pastry with cooking spray, or brush them with a little olive oil. Then, grab your fabulous sharp cheddar, and sprinkle it all over the tops of your pies.
Don't forget, your oven should be preheated to 425F at this point.
That's just lovely, isn't it? For small dishes, I put them all on a baking sheet so I can move them easily.
Whatever your method, bake the pie at 425F for 15-20 minutes until the pastry is golden and fluffy.
Nicely done! I serve these little cuties on separate plates so no one burns themselves. I also serve the shrimp version with Louisiana-style hot sauce, like Tabasco, for passing at the table in case people like it spicy.
And with that, my dears, there is nothing left to do but dig in. Happy Weekend!