Thursday, December 3

Stewing Up a Hearty Meal

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Every spoonful of these pot pies will warm you up with melt-in-your-mouth flavors.

Pot pies are nutritious whole meals, their main ingredients precut into bite-sized pieces and wrapped in a cozy blanket of crust. Just in time for the chill of autumn, these pot pies will warm your body and soul.

Pot Roast Pot Pie

You’ve made pot roast and have a ton of leftovers. Transform them into a delicious pot pie. This recipe uses a phyllo dough crust that gives it the perfect sophisticated topping.
Yield: 4 servings
  • ½ recipe cooked pot roast with potatoes and carrots, slightly heated
  • ½ cup unsalted butter
  • 8 ounces frozen phyllo dough (half of a pound box), thawed
  • 1 egg
  • 2 teaspoons water
  1. Grease the bottom and sides of a medium casserole dish. Chop the leftover pot roast, potatoes and carrots into bite-sized pieces. Place in the casserole dish along with the pot roast gravy. The mixture should be within an inch of the top of the dish.
  2. Place the butter in a small shallow pan over medium-low heat. Remove from the heat when the butter is melted.
  3. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  4. Spread the phyllo on a clean pastry cloth. Remove one sheet of the phyllo and brush with the melted butter. Top with another sheet of phyllo, placing it slightly off center to create a star shape as you continue to repeat with the phyllo and butter. When finished, carefully pick up the phyllo and transfer to the top of the casserole. Press onto the top of the filling, keeping an overhang on the sides of the dish.
  5. Whisk together the egg and water and brush over the top of the phyllo crust. Carefully make a 2-inch slit in the top. Bake 30 minutes or until the phyllo is golden brown. Let rest for 10 minutes before serving warm.

Brunch Pot Pie

Yield: 4 servings
  • 1 (8-ounce) can refrigerated crescent rolls
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 green onion, chopped
  • 1½ cups chopped cooked ham
  • 1 cup shredded Monterey Jack cheese
  • 2 tablespoons shredded Parmesan cheese
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
  • ¼ teaspoon garlic salt
  • ¼ teaspoon black pepper
  1. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Open the crescent rolls and press five of the triangles into a 9-inch pie pan, making sure to press the edges together to seal. Press the remaining three triangles together on a pastry cloth. With a pastry cutter, cut into thin strips and set aside.
  2. In a mixing bowl, whisk together the eggs. Add the onions, ham, Monterey Jack cheese, Parmesan, parsley, salt and pepper, blending well. Transfer to the prepared pie pan. Arrange the strips of crescent rolls over the top. Place on a baking sheet and bake on the lowest oven rack for 1 hour. Let stand 5 minutes before slicing and serving warm.

Classic Chicken Pot Pie

Yield: 6 servings
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
  • ¼ cup all-purpose flour
  • 1½ cups chicken stock
  • 1½ cups half-and-half
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 double pie pastry
  • 1 (8-ounce) package sliced fresh mushrooms
  • 1 sweet onion, peeled and chopped
  • 3 celery stalks, sliced
  • 3½ cups cooked chicken, chopped
  • 2 hard-cooked eggs, chopped
  1. Melt 4 tablespoons of the butter in a large heavy saucepan over low heat. Add the flour, stirring constantly until smooth. Cook 1 minute, stirring constantly. Gradually add the stock and half-and-half. Increase heat to medium and stir until thick and bubbly, about 12 minutes. Stir in the salt and pepper and set aside.
  2. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Place a single pie crust into a 9-inch deep-dish pan and set aside.
  3. In a skillet over medium-high heat, melt the remaining butter. Add the mushrooms, onions and celery, cooking until tender, about 5 minutes. Drain and stir into the sauce. Add the chicken and eggs, stirring well.
  4. Spoon the filling into the prepared pie crust. Top with the remaining pie crust. Fold the edges under and flute. Cut three slits in the top for ventilation. Bake 35 to 40 minutes or until the top is golden brown. Cover the edges with strips of aluminum foil after 20 minutes to prevent excessive browning. Let rest 5 minutes before cutting and serving. Serve warm.

Cracker Crust Vegetable Pies

Yield: 6 servings
  • 40 crackers
  • 7 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • 2 tablespoons canola oil
  • 1 sweet onion, peeled and chopped
  • 2 summer squash, coarsely chopped
  • 2 zucchini, coarsely chopped
  • 2 eggs
  • ¼ cup heavy cream
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon black pepper
  • 2 cups grated Parmesan, divided
  1. Place the crackers in a food processor and process until they resemble graham cracker crumbs. Transfer to a mixing bowl and stir in the melted butter, mixing well. Divide the cracker mixture among six 5-inch pie pans. Press the crumbs in the bottom and up the sides. Place on a rimmed baking sheet and set aside.
  2. Place the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. When hot, add the onions and cook for 10 minutes to caramelize. Add the squash and zucchini and cook 10 minutes longer. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 350 degrees. In a mixing bowl, whisk together the eggs, cream, salt, pepper and half of the Parmesan. Stir in the vegetables and spoon equally into the prepared crusts. Sprinkle the tops with the remaining Parmesan.
  3. Bake 30 to 35 minutes or until the cheese on top is golden brown. Let rest 5 minutes before serving warm.

Mushroom Pot Pie

Yield: 6 servings
  • 1 tablespoon canola or vegetable oil
  • 1 large sweet onion, peeled and chopped
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 pound sliced mushrooms
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons dry mustard
  • 1 teaspoon dried basil
  • ½ teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup plain Greek yogurt
  • ½ cup grated Swiss cheese
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
  • ¼ teaspoon black pepper
  • ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 cup self-rising flour
  • ⅓ cup cold unsalted butter
  • ⅓ cup slivered almonds, toasted
  • 6 tablespoons cold water
  1. Place the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. When hot, add the onions and salt. Cook 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the mushrooms and lemon juice. Cook for 7 minutes, stirring frequently.
  2. Gradually sprinkle in the all-purpose flour, mustard, basil and thyme. Cook another 5 minutes and remove from heat.
  3. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Grease a shallow 2-quart casserole dish and set aside. In a mixing bowl, stir together the egg, yogurt, cheese, parsley, black pepper and cayenne. Add the mushroom mixture and stir until well combined. Transfer to the prepared casserole dish and set aside.
  4. Place the self-rising flour in a mixing bowl and cut in the butter with a pantry blender or 2 forks until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Add the almonds and mix well. Add the water and stir until a soft dough forms.
  5. Turn out onto a lightly floured surface and knead gently 5 times. Pat into a shape to fit on top of the mushroom mixture and place over the top. Bake 30 to 35 minutes or until golden brown. Let rest 5 minutes before serving warm.

Pastry pointers

Traditional pastry crust consists of three ingredients: Walter, flour and cold fat. The fat can be lard, butter or shortening. Measure accurately, or this can happen:

  • Too much flour makes the pastry tough.
  • Too much fat will make it greasy and crumbly.
  • Too much water turns it soggy or gummy and also makes it tough.


Invest in a pastry blender, which has parallel U-shaped wires that are attached to a handle. It makes easy work of cutting the fat into the flour if you are mixing by hand. A rolling pin makes a great transportation tool to move the pastry onto or into the pan.

Ask Chef Tammy

Pastry cloth and rolling pin cover are indispensible baking tools

For the best pie pastry, invest in a good pastry cloth and rolling pin cover. These are inexpensive, found nearly everywhere and are frequently packaged together. The cloth underneath and the cloth on the rolling pin absorb and hold excess flour. The advantage is that they allow the pastry to have only enough flour to make it roll out easier. It keeps the extra flour from being incorporated into your pastry, potentially making it tougher and less flaky. That simply can’t be accomplished on your countertop! Both are machine-washable.

Cindy Williamson would like to know why her homemade pie crust always ends up being tough. “I use my food processor, which is easy, but I don’t like the results,” she writes.

Cindy, you are likely processing it too long, hence overworking the dough. I use the food processor to cut in the fat, then transfer it to a bowl to incorporate the ice water. Remember the rule: Keep it cold and keep it moving. Make sure the water is ice-cold along with whatever fat you are using.

Tommy Russell asks why the bottom crust of his double crust fruit pies never bakes completely. “I follow the directions in my cookbook, but in some cases, it hardly seems like the bottom crust has cooked at all,” he writes.

Tommy, I have been doing this trick for years, and it always works: Place a baking sheet in the oven while it is preheating. Then put your pie plate on the hot sheet when you put it in the oven. It helps seal the bottom crust and helps it bake to the doneness you need!

Email your cooking questions to Tammy Algood:
You may be featured in the next issue of The Tennessee Magazine!


About Author

Tammy Algood

Tammy Algood develops for The Tennessee Magazine recipes that feature farm-fresh Tennessee food. Those fresh, local ingredients will always add cleaner, more flavorful foods to your table. We recommend visiting local farms and farmers markets to find the freshest seasonal produce. For more information about our recipes, contact Algood at

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