11 March 2013

Corned Beef Pot Pie

St. Patrick's Day - the day we remember the beloved patron saint of Ireland by dyeing beer, watch for rainbows and wear green to avoid being pinched.  After chasing out the snakes, he must've had a ball.  We always celebrate with our most favorite of traditions, the much beloved corned beef and cabbage.  My mom made it every year growing up, and it has a huge spot in my heart.  Plus there's all that great leftover meat for Rueben's and corned beef hash.  But there's another dish that I would like to introduce to your leftover repertoire if you can stand to give your Thousand Island a little break.  The amazing flavor of the Irish dinner with all the warmth of a truly great comfort food...ladies and gents, I give you the Corned Beef Pot Pie. 

This is one of the best ideas of my leftover life, and I have to make it every year.  Last year, we unfortunately picked out the saddest, fattiest hunk of corned beef in the history of human existence. Literally.  We actually wrote up a formal complaint, the meat was that bad.  After barely picking out enough for dinner, we had absolutely no meat leftover.  Needless to say, this year we were looking to make up for that disappointment.  The hubs and I went scouting the local markets extra early, and when we found an absolutely stunning, nearly fat-free piece, we didn't think twice about waiting until the 17th.  So we did our corned beef last weekend.  This way, we get to celebrate all week with the leftovers.  Wahoo!

A while back, I made a truly terrific pot pie from smitten kitchen courtesy of Deb.  It was absolutely delicious.  The smell was so good, we dove in before they had cooled and burnt the crap out of our mouths (but it was nothing a nice sip of chardonnay couldn't remedy).  These little individual dishes were so fun to make and eat, I knew that they would be a repeat recipe.  Plus, the were a huge hit with the hubs....crispy crust and hot, hearty filling put you on the fast track to any man's heart.  So I took her basic recipe, tweaked it to my taste and St. Patties'd it up.  

The traditional mirepoix is the base to lots of pot pies - onions, celery and carrot.  However, when it comes to our corned beef and cabbage dinner, my absolute favorite veggie is always the carrots (the hubs like the potatoes, so it works out well).  Ohhhhhh, the carrots!  They soak up all that briny, savory deliciousness while still keeping their signature sweet flavor.  Forget the gold, just give me a pot of those at the end of a rainbow.  So to honor this saintly veggie, I left them in a slightly larger than the onions so they were more predominant...and it was wonderful.  The celery was nixed entirely and replaced by cups of green cabbage.  Add in your diced corned beef, a light sauce and top it off with a delicious whole wheat crust, and boom! - you're in home-food heaven.

The best part of this dish is that it's everything in one bowl.  Meat, vegetables and bread baked to perfection together.  No need to serve a side as one is a perfect little dinner itself.  Once they're in the oven, you just clean up and play a few rounds of Uno while enjoying a pint of Guinness.  Classic.  When we make this, we halve the recipe and it makes two perfect little pot pies.  I'm writing it with ingredients for four, but you could easily 1 1/2 or even double the recipe for a larger group.  I love recipes that work like that.

A word of caution!  Learn from my blogged experience above, and please please PLEASE let the pie cool for 10 minutes before eating.  If not, you will have a sad, sensitive and possibly swearing burnt little mouth, my friend.  It just gives you time for an extra few rounds of Uno.  

Corned Beef Pot Pie (4 pot pies)
  • 1 tbs extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 large carrots, peeled and chopped
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 5 c cabbage, chopped
  • 2 tsp minced garlic
  • 1/2 tsp ground coriander
  • 1/2 tsp dried bay leaves
  • 1/4 tsp dry mustard
  • 1/2 tsp fresh cracked pepper
  • 1/2 tsp red chili flakes (optional)
  • 3 tbs unsalted butter
  • 2 3/4 tbs whole wheat flour (for white flour, use 3 level tbs)
  • 3 1/2 c reduced sodium vegetable or chicken broth
  • 4 c diced corned beef
For the lids:
  • 2 scant cups whole wheat flour (for white flour, use 1 level cup)
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 12 tbs unsalted butter
  • 6 tbs sour cream (we use fat free) or Greek yogurt
  • 1 tbs white vinegar
  • 4 tbs ice water
  • 1 egg (for the wash)

First make your lids.  Combine the flour and salt in a large mixing bowl and whisk together.  Add cold butter and cut in with a pastry blender, until the butter is in very fine grains and you have a mealy consistency (great arm workout!).  In a small bowl, whisk together the sour cream, white vinegar and ice water.  Pour the wet ingredients into the flour mixture and stir together well.  Finish by kneading together a few times with your hands.  Form the dough into a thick disk and wrap in plastic wrap.  Let chill in the refrigerator for at least an hour, or make up to two days in advance.  

Second, prep all your veggies and meat.  You'll be so much happier while cooking. 

Place a large, wide pan over medium-high heat and add the olive oil.  When the oil is hot, add the carrots and cook for three minutes, stirring once or twice.  Add the onions and cabbage, and cook for an additional 7-8 minutes, stirring occasionally, until tender and fragrant.  Add the garlic and stir together well, then season with the coriander, bay, dry mustard, pepper and red chili flakes.  Cook for another minute or two, then transfer the vegetables into a bowl and set aside.  Try not to leave any veggies in the pan, but don't wipe it out. 

Reduce your burner to medium-low and place the pan back on the heat.  Melt your butter in the pan, then stir in the flour with a whisk.  Continue to stir constantly for a minute or two until the flour is fragrant.   (White flour will begin to brown but wheat flour doesn't darken as fast.)  Add 1/2 cup of the broth, and continue whisking until all the lumps are gone.  Continue to add the broth in 1/2 cup increments, stirring together as you go.  Once all the broth is in the pan, increase the heat to bring to a boil, whisking constantly.  Once you reach a boil, reduce to a simmer and continue to cook and stir for about 10 minutes, until the sauce has a nice gravy-like consistency.  Add the reserved vegetables and diced corned beef to the sauce and mix together with a wooden spoon.  Turn the heat to low.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.  Divide the filling equally between four baking dishes.  (We use our little square Le Creuset's that are perfectly level with 20 ounces of water, but you could use bowls or make one big pot pie if you like.)  Whisk together the egg with one tablespoon of water and brush the rim of your dishes to help the lid stick.  Divide the dough into four and roll out until flat enough to overhang the edges of your bowls a bit.  Lay dough carefully over the filled dishes and press gently around the rim to seal.  Cut vents in the top of the crust and brush with remaining egg, if desired.  

Place dishes on a baking sheet and pop into the oven.  Bake for about 30 minutes, until the top is golden around the rim of the dish and the smell is too much to take.  Remove and let cool for 10 minutes before serving.  Garnish with sauerkraut or enjoy on its own.   

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